Cloning and Characterization of Oxidosqualene Cyclases from Kalanchoe daigremontiana Journal Articles uri icon

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  • The first committed step in triterpenoid biosynthesis is the cyclization of oxidosqualene to polycyclic alcohols or ketones C(30)H(50)O. It is catalyzed by single oxidosqualene cyclase (OSC) enzymes that can carry out varying numbers of carbocation rearrangements and, thus, generate triterpenoids with diverse carbon skeletons. OSCs from diverse plant species have been cloned and characterized, the large majority of them catalyzing relatively few rearrangement steps. It was recently predicted that special OSCs must exist that can form friedelin, the pentacyclic triterpenoid whose formation involves the maximum possible number of rearrangement steps. The goal of the present study, therefore, was to clone a friedelin synthase from Kalanchoe daigremontiana, a plant species known to accumulate this triterpenoid in its leaf surface waxes. Five OSC cDNAs were isolated, encoding proteins with 761-779 amino acids and sharing between 57.4 and 94.3% nucleotide sequence identity. Heterologous expression in yeast and GC-MS analyses showed that one of the OSCs generated the steroid cycloartenol together with minor side products, whereas the other four enzymes produced mixtures of pentacyclic triterpenoids dominated by lupeol (93%), taraxerol (60%), glutinol (66%), and friedelin (71%), respectively. The cycloartenol synthase was found expressed in all leaf tissues, whereas the lupeol, taraxerol, glutinol, and friedelin synthases were expressed only in the epidermis layers lining the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf blade. It is concluded that the function of these enzymes is to form respective triterpenoid aglycones destined to coat the leaf exterior, probably as defense compounds against pathogens or herbivores.


  • Wang, Zhonghua
  • Yeats, Trevor
  • Han, Hong
  • Jetter, Reinhard

publication date

  • September 2010