On the cover of Plant Physiology – University of Copenhagen

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28 March 2014

On the cover of Plant Physiology

Researchers from Plant Power have a cover story on the March edition of Plant Physiology: The first two steps of the biosynthesis of the drug forskolin are active in Coleus forskohlii root cork cells. Here, forskolin and other bioactive terpenoids are stored in lipid bodies, which indicates a unique and novel function for these lipophilic intracellular compartments. 

The cover shows a cross section of the Coleus forskohlii root. The forskolin production occurs in the outermost cork in only a few cell layers. Cover image credits: Irini Pateraki and Helle Juel Martens. Click the image to download a pdf in higher resolution.

Extract from the editor of Plant Physiology:

The labdane diterpene forskolin has long been recognized for its pharmaceutical properties. Most important, forskolin increases intracellular cAMP levels which then assist in the relaxation of human blood and respiratory vessels. In nature, forskolin is produced in the roots of the plant Coleus forskohlii, but until now the precise site of forskolin biosynthesis and accumulation has remained unknown.

In this issue, Pateraki et al. (pp. 1222–1236) show that forskolin accumulates in specialized cells harboring intracellular oil body structures within the root cork. Chemical analysis of these root oil bodies revealed that they have the capacity to store an array of terpenoids, including forskolin and its biosynthetic precursor, manoyl oxide. Pateraki et al. identified and characterized two diterpene synthases: enzymes responsible for the synthesis of manoyl oxide, and the first steps of forskolin biosynthesis. Expression of these enzymes was highest in the root cork. These findings provide an important insight into the nature of forskolin biosynthesis and will assist in future discoveries of the remaining biosynthetic components, thus potentially leading to sustainable forskolin production through biotechnological applications.

Article: Pateraki I, Andersen-Ranberg J, Hamberger B, Heskes AM, Martens HJ, Zerbe P, Bach SS, Møller BL, Bohlmann J, Hamberger B. (2014) Manoyl Oxide (13R), the Biosynthetic Precursor of Forskolin, Is Synthesized in Specialized Root Cork Cells in Coleus forskohlii. Plant Physiol.;164(3):1222-36. doi: 10.1104/pp.113.228429 

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