The Plant journal : for cell and molecular biology

Indole alkaloid biosynthesis in Catharanthus roseus: new enzyme activities and identification of cytochrome P450 CYP72A1 as secologanin synthase.

PMID 11135113


The molecular characterization of CYP72A1 from Catharanthus roseus (Madagascar periwinkle) was described nearly a decade ago, but the enzyme function remained unknown. We now show by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry that the expression in immature leaves is epidermis-specific. It thus follows the pattern previously established for early enzymes in the pathway to indole alkaloids, suggesting that CYP72A1 may be involved in their biosynthesis. The early reactions in that pathway, i.e. from geraniol to strictosidine, contain several candidates for P450 activities. We investigated in this work two reactions, the conversion of 7-deoxyloganin to loganin (deoxyloganin 7-hydroxylase, DL7H) and the oxidative ring cleavage converting loganin into secologanin (secologanin synthase, SLS). The action of DL7H has not been demonstrated in vitro previously, and SLS has only recently been identified as P450 activity in one other plant. We show for the first time that both enzyme activities are present in microsomes from C. roseus cell cultures. We then tested whether CYP72A1 expressed in E. coli as a translational fusion with the C. roseus P450 reductase (P450Red) has one or both of these activities. The results show that CYP72A1 converts loganin into secologanin.