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Sci Rep. 2016 Mar 14;6:23057. doi: 10.1038/srep23057.

Functional characterization of ent-copalyl diphosphate synthase, kaurene synthase and kaurene oxidase in the Salvia miltiorrhiza gibberellin biosynthetic pathway.

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School of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China.
State Key Laboratory Breeding Base of Dao-di Herbs, National Resource Center for Chinese Materia Medica, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing, China.
State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicine, Macau University of Science and Technology, Avenida Wai Long, Taipa, Macau, China.
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Kemivägen 10, SE-41296 Göteborg, Sweden.


Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge is highly valued in traditional Chinese medicine for its roots and rhizomes. Its bioactive diterpenoid tanshinones have been reported to have many pharmaceutical activities, including antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties. Previous studies found four different diterpenoid biosynthetic pathways from the universal diterpenoid precursor (E,E,E)-geranylgeranyl diphosphate (GGPP) in S. miltiorrhiza. Here, we describe the functional characterization of ent-copalyl diphosphate synthase (SmCPSent), kaurene synthase (SmKS) and kaurene oxidase (SmKO) in the gibberellin (GA) biosynthetic pathway. SmCPSent catalyzes the cyclization of GGPP to ent-copalyl diphosphate (ent-CPP), which is converted to ent-kaurene by SmKS. Then, SmKO catalyzes the three-step oxidation of ent-kaurene to ent-kaurenoic acid. Our results show that the fused enzyme SmKS-SmCPSent increases ent-kaurene production by several fold compared with separate expression of SmCPSent and SmKS in yeast strains. In this study, we clarify the GA biosynthetic pathway from GGPP to ent-kaurenoic acid and provide a foundation for further characterization of the subsequent enzymes involved in this pathway. These insights may allow for better growth and the improved accumulation of bioactive tanshinones in S. miltiorrhiza through the regulation of the expression of these genes during developmental processes.

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