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Promoting scopolamine biosynthesis in transgenic Atropa belladonna plants with pmt and h6h overexpression under field conditions

Xia, Ke, Liu, Xiaoqiang, Zhang, Qiaozhuo, Qiang, Wei, Guo, Jianjun, Lan, Xiaozhong, Chen, Min, Liao, Zhihua
Plant physiology and biochemistry 2016 v.106 pp. 46-53
Atropa belladonna, Hyoscyamus niger, Nicotiana tabacum, aerial parts, atropine, biosynthesis, chemotypes, fruits, gene overexpression, leaves, progeny, putrescine N-methyltransferase, roots, scopolamine, stems, transcription (genetics), transgenes, transgenic plants, underground parts
Atropa belladonna is one of the most important plant sources for producing pharmaceutical tropane alkaloids (TAs). T1 progeny of transgenic A. belladonna, in which putrescine N-methyltransferase (EC. from Nicotiana tabacum (NtPMT) and hyoscyamine 6β-hydroxylase (EC. from Hyoscyamus niger (HnH6H) were overexpressed, were established to investigate TA biosynthesis and distribution in ripe fruits, leaves, stems, primary roots and secondary roots under field conditions. Both NtPMT and HnH6H were detected at the transcriptional level in transgenic plants, whereas they were not detected in wild-type plants. The transgenes did not influence the root-specific expression patterns of endogenous TA biosynthetic genes in A. belladonna. All four endogenous TA biosynthetic genes (AbPMT, AbTRI, AbCYP80F1 and AbH6H) had the highest/exclusive expression levels in secondary roots, suggesting that TAs were mainly synthesized in secondary roots. T1 progeny of transgenic A. belladonna showed an impressive scopolamine-rich chemotype that greatly improved the pharmaceutical value of A. belladonna. The higher efficiency of hyoscyamine conversion was found in aerial than in underground parts. In aerial parts of transgenic plants, hyoscyamine was totally converted to downstream alkaloids, especially scopolamine. Hyoscyamine, anisodamine and scopolamine were detected in underground parts, but scopolamine and anisodamine were more abundant than hyoscyamine. The exclusively higher levels of anisodamine in roots suggested that it might be difficult for its translocation from root to aerial organs. T1 progeny of transgenic A. belladonna, which produces scopolamine at very high levels (2.94–5.13 mg g−1) in field conditions, can provide more valuable plant materials for scopolamine production.