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Phytochemistry. 2013 Jul;91:177-86. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2012.09.009. Epub 2012 Oct 22.

The biosynthesis of hydroxycinnamoyl quinate esters and their role in the storage of cocaine in Erythroxylum coca.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Jena, Germany.

Abstract

Complexation of alkaloids is an important strategy plants utilize to facilitate storage in vacuoles and avoid autotoxicity. Previous studies have implicated hydroxycinnamoyl quinate esters in the complexation of purine alkaloids in Coffea arabica. The goal of this study was to determine if Erythroxylum coca uses similar complexation agents to store abundant tropane alkaloids, such as cocaine and cinnamoyl cocaine. Metabolite analysis of various E. coca organs established a close correlation between levels of coca alkaloids and those of two hydroxycinnamoyl esters of quinic acid, chlorogenic acid and 4-coumaroyl quinate. The BAHD acyltransferase catalyzing the final step in hydroxycinnamoyl quinate biosynthesis was isolated and characterized, and its gene expression found to correlate with tropane alkaloid accumulation. A physical interaction between chlorogenic acid and cocaine was observed and quantified in vitro using UV and NMR spectroscopic methods yielding similar values to those reported for a caffeine chlorogenate complex in C. arabica. These results suggest that storage of cocaine and other coca alkaloids in large quantities in E. coca involves hydroxycinnamoyl quinate esters as complexation partners.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

PMID:
23089134
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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