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Studies on the biosynthesis of tropane alkaloids in Datura stramonium L. transformed root cultures.

Studies on the biosynthesis of tropane alkaloids in Datura stramonium L. transformed root cultures.

  1. Gradient
    Richard J. Robins1, Adrian J. Parr1, Elizabeth G. Bent1 and Michael J. C. Rhodes

    Abstract The factors by which the endogenous regulation of tropane-alkaloid biosynthesis may be effected have been examined in a transformed root culture of Datura stramonium. Pools of intermediates showed a subculture-related maximal accumulation, as did the enzyme activities by which they are synthesised and/or metabolised. The end-products, principally hyoscyamine and apohyoscyamine, in contrast, accumulated steadily in growing cultures. Feeding putrescine, agmatine or tropine did not enhance alkaloid accumulation, but rather may even have resulted in a lowering of hyoscyamine levels. Similarly, feeding precursors for the tropate moiety of hyoscyamine either had no influence or had a detrimental effect on hyoscyamine accumulation. Under some feeding conditions, intermediates in the pathway from N-methylputrescine up to and including tropine accumulated up to 40-fold. Little effect on early intermediates was found, however, when tropinone or tropine were fed. The expression of the enzyme arginine decarboxylase (EC 4.1.1.19) was particularly sensitive to feed-back repression, both by its product agmatine and by more distant pathway intermediates, notably putrescine and tropine. Some diminution of the levels of putrescine N-methyltransferase (EC 2.1.1.53) and N-methylputrescine oxidase, the first committed enzymes of alkaloid biosynthesis, was also seen with tropine, although only at rather high levels. It is concluded that the pathway is not regulated in a simple manner and that (i) the early enzymes of the pathway are at near rate-limiting levels, (ii) there is a major limitation to flux at the level of the esterification of tropine, and (iii) the level of free tropine may be important in determining the flux into and through the tropane pathway.