Plant Chemistry, Research Updates|


Catalyzing stereo- and regio-specific oxidation of inert hydrocarbon backbones, and a range of more exotic reactions inherently difficult in formal chemical synthesis, cytochromes P450 (P450s) offer outstanding potential for biotechnological engineering. Plants and their dazzling diversity of specialized metabolites have emerged as rich repository for functional P450s with the advances of deep transcriptomics and genome wide discovery. P450s are of outstanding interest for understanding chemical diversification throughout evolution, for gaining mechanistic insights through the study of their structure–function relationship, and for exploitation in Synthetic Biology. In this review, we highlight recent developments and examples in the discovery of plant P450s involved in the biosynthesis of industrially relevant monoterpenoids, sesquiterpenoids, diterpenoids and triterpenoids, throughout 2016 and early 2017. Examples were selected to illustrate the spectrum of value from commodity chemicals, flavor and fragrance compounds to pharmacologically active terpenoids. We focus on a recently emerging theme, where P450s control metabolic bifurcations and chemical diversity of the final product profile, either within a pathway, or through neo-functionalization in related species. The implications may inform approaches for rational assembly of recombinant pathways, biotechnological production of high value terpenoids and generation of novel chemical entities.

Reference: Banerjee, A. and B. Hamberger (2018). “P450s controlling metabolic bifurcations in plant terpene specialized metabolism.” Phytochemistry Reviews 17(1): 81-111.

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