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Plant Cell Rep. 1987 Dec;6(6):410-3. doi: 10.1007/BF00272770.

Elicitation of benzophenanthridine alkaloid synthesis in Eschscholtzia cell cultures.

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Lehrstuhl für Pharmazeutische Biologie der Universität München, Karlstrasse 29, D-8000, München 2, Federal Republic of Germany.


Quaternary benzophenanthridine alkaloids (sanguinarine, chelerythrine, chelirubine, chelilutine and macarpine) are specifically induced by cell wall components of Penicillium and Saccharomyces in a colorless strain of Eschscholtzia californica cell suspension cultures. Classical elicitors such as the Phytophthora megasperma elicitor are inactive. The alkaloid synthesis is, however, strongly induced by certain polypeptide antibiotics. Out of 190 tested plant species the yeast elicitor provoked benzophenanthridine synthesis in 13 cultures. One of the branch point enzymes, namely the berberine bridge enzyme, catalysing the formation of (S)-scoulerine from (S)-reticuline, is strongly stimulated during the elicitation process. These results clearly demonstrate the induction of the benzophenanthridine biosynthetic pathway by microbial elicitors.


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