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Plant Cell Rep. 2014 Apr;33(4):605-15. doi: 10.1007/s00299-014-1566-y. Epub 2014 Jan 12.

Transgenic approach to increase artemisinin content in Artemisia annua L.

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Key Laboratory of Urban Agriculture (South) Ministry of Agriculture, Plant Biotechnology Research Center, Fudan-SJTU-Nottingham Plant Biotechnology R&D Center, School of Agriculture and Biology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, 200240, People's Republic of China,


Artemisinin, the endoperoxide sesquiterpene lactone, is an effective antimalarial drug isolated from the Chinese medicinal plant Artemisia annua L. Due to its effectiveness against multi-drug-resistant cerebral malaria, it becomes the essential components of the artemisinin-based combination therapies which are recommended by the World Health Organization as the preferred choice for malaria tropica treatments. To date, plant A. annua is still the main commercial source of artemisinin. Although semi-synthesis of artemisinin via artemisinic acid in yeast is feasible at present, another promising approach to reduce the price of artemisinin is using plant metabolic engineering to obtain a higher content of artemisinin in transgenic plants. In the past years, an Agrobacterium-mediated transformation system of A. annua has been established by which a number of genes related to artemisinin biosynthesis have been successfully transferred into A. annua plants. In this review, the progress on increasing artemisinin content in A. annua by transgenic approach and its future prospect are summarized and discussed.

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