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Arch Biochem Biophys. 2006 Apr 15;448(1-2):133-40. Epub 2005 Oct 7.

An unexpected diterpene cyclase from rice: functional identification of a stemodene synthase.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA.


We have cloned a novel diterpene synthase (OsKSL11) from rice that produces stemod-13(17)-ene from syn-copalyl diphosphate. Notably, this gene sequence was not predicted from the extensive sequence information available for rice, nor, despite extensive phytochemical investigations, has this diterpene or any derived natural product previously been reported in rice plants. OsKSL11 represents the first identified stemodene synthase, which catalyzes the committed step in biosynthesis of the stemodane family of diterpenoid natural products, some of which possess antiviral activity. In addition, OsKSL11 is highly homologous to the mechanistically similar stemarene synthase recently identified from rice, making this pair of diterpene cyclases an excellent model system for investigating the enzymatic determinants for differential product outcome. The unexpected nature of this cyclase and its product parallels recent observations of previously unrecognized natural products metabolism in Arabidopsis thaliana, suggesting that many, if not all, plant species will prove to have extensive biosynthetic capacity.

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