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87. Synthetic biology identifies the minimal gene set required for paclitaxel biosynthesis in a plant chassis

Y. Zhang, L. Wiese, H. Fang, S. Alseekh, L. Perez de Souza, F. Scossa, J. J. Molloy, M. Christmann, A. R. Fernie

The diterpenoid paclitaxel (Taxol) is a chemotherapy medication widely used as a first-line treatment against several types of solid cancers. The supply of paclitaxel from natural sources is limited. However, missing knowledge about the genes involved in several specific metabolic steps of paclitaxel biosynthesis has rendered it difficult to engineer the full pathway. In this study, we used a combination of transcriptomics, cell biology, metabolomics, and pathway reconstitution to identify the complete gene set required for the heterologous production of paclitaxel. We identified the missing steps from the current model of paclitaxel biosynthesis and confirmed the activity of most of the missing enzymes via heterologous expression in Nicotiana benthamiana. Notably, we identified a new C4β-C20 epoxidase that could overcome the first bottleneck of metabolic engineering. We used both previously characterized and newly identified oxomutases/epoxidases, taxane 1β-hydroxylase, taxane 9α-hydroxylase, taxane 9α-dioxygenase, and phenylalanine-CoA ligase, to successfully biosynthesize the key intermediate baccatin III and to convert baccatin III into paclitaxel in N. benthamiana. In combination, these approaches establish a metabolic route to taxoid biosynthesis and provide insights into the unique chemistry that plants use to generate complex bioactive metabolites.

Title
87. Synthetic biology identifies the minimal gene set required for paclitaxel biosynthesis in a plant chassis
Author
Y. Zhang, L. Wiese, H. Fang, S. Alseekh, L. Perez de Souza, F. Scossa, J. J. Molloy, M. Christmann, A. R. Fernie
Identifier
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molp.2023.10.016
Source(s)
Citation
Molecular Plant 2023
Type
Text