Display Settings:


Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Sep 21;101(38):13957-62. Epub 2004 Sep 7.

The roles of latex and the vascular bundle in morphine biosynthesis in the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum.

Author information

  • 1Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie, Weinberg 3, 06120 Halle/Saale, Germany.


The opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, is one of mankind's oldest medicinal plants. Opium poppy today is the commercial source of the narcotic analgesics morphine and codeine. Along with these two morphinans, opium poppy produces approximately eighty alkaloids belonging to various tetrahydrobenzylisoquinoline-derived classes. It has been known for over a century that morphinan alkaloids accumulate in the latex of opium poppy. With identification of many of the enzymes of alkaloid biosynthesis in this plant, biochemical data suggested involvement of multiple cell types in alkaloid biosynthesis in poppy. Herein the immunolocalization of five enzymes of alkaloid formation in opium poppy is reported: (R,S)-3'-hydroxy-N-methylcoclaurine 4'-O-methyltransferase central to the biosynthesis of tetrahydroisoquinoline-derived alkaloids, the berberine bridge enzyme of the sanguinarine pathway, (R,S)-reticuline 7-O-methyltransferase specific to laudanosine formation, and salutaridinol 7-O-acetyltransferase and codeinone reductase, which lead to morphine. In capsule and stem, both O-methyltransferases and the O-acetyltransferase are found predominantly in parenchyma cells within the vascular bundle, and codeinone reductase is localized to laticifers, the site of morphinan alkaloid accumulation. In developing root tip, both O-methyltransferases and the O-acetyltransferase are found in the pericycle of the stele, and the berberine bridge enzyme is localized to parenchyma cells of the root cortex. Laticifers are not found in developing root tip, and, likewise, codeinone reductase was not detected. These results provide cell-specific localization that gives a coherent picture of the spatial distribution of alkaloid biosynthesis in opium poppy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk