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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Jan 20;106(3):725-30. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0807675106. Epub 2009 Jan 12.

Dual biosynthetic pathways to phytosterol via cycloartenol and lanosterol in Arabidopsis.

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  • 1RIKEN Plant Science Center, 1-7-22 Suehiro-cho, Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa, 230-0045, Japan.


The differences between the biosynthesis of sterols in higher plants and yeast/mammals are believed to originate at the cyclization step of oxidosqualene, which is cyclized to cycloartenol in higher plants and lanosterol in yeast/mammals. Recently, lanosterol synthase genes were identified from dicotyledonous plant species including Arabidopsis, suggesting that higher plants possess dual biosynthetic pathways to phytosterols via lanosterol, and through cycloartenol. To identify the biosynthetic pathway to phytosterol via lanosterol, and to reveal the contributions to phytosterol biosynthesis via each cycloartenol and lanosterol, we performed feeding experiments by using [6-(13)C(2)H(3)]mevalonate with Arabidopsis seedlings. Applying (13)C-{(1)H}{(2)H} nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) techniques, the elucidation of deuterium on C-19 behavior of phytosterol provided evidence that small amounts of phytosterol were biosynthesized via lanosterol. The levels of phytosterol increased on overexpression of LAS1, and phytosterols derived from lanosterol were not observed in a LAS1-knockout plant. This is direct evidence to indicate that the biosynthetic pathway for phytosterol via lanosterol exists in plant cells. We designate the biosynthetic pathway to phytosterols via lanosterol "the lanosterol pathway." LAS1 expression is reported to be induced by the application of jasmonate and is thought to have evolved from an ancestral cycloartenol synthase to a triterpenoid synthase, such as beta-amyrin synthase and lupeol synthase. Considering this background, the lanosterol pathway may contribute to the biosynthesis of not only phytosterols, but also steroids as secondary metabolites.

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