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Front Plant Sci. 2017 Apr 11;8:564. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2017.00564. eCollection 2017.

Modular Design of Picroside-II Biosynthesis Deciphered through NGS Transcriptomes and Metabolic Intermediates Analysis in Naturally Variant Chemotypes of a Medicinal Herb, Picrorhiza kurroa.

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Department of Biotechnology and Bioinformatics, Jaypee University of Information TechnologyWaknaghat, India.


Picroside-II (P-II), an iridoid glycoside, is used as an active ingredient of various commercial herbal formulations available for the treatment of liver ailments. Despite this, the knowledge of P-II biosynthesis remains scarce owing to its negligence in Picrorhiza kurroa shoots which sets constant barrier for function validation experiments. In this study, we utilized natural variation for P-II content in stolon tissues of different P. kurroa accessions and deciphered its metabolic route by integrating metabolomics of intermediates with differential NGS transcriptomes. Upon navigating through high vs. low P-II content accessions (1.3-2.6%), we have established that P-II is biosynthesized via degradation of ferulic acid (FA) to produce vanillic acid (VA) which acts as its immediate biosynthetic precursor. Moreover, the FA treatment in vitro at 150 μM concentration provided further confirmation with 2-fold rise in VA content. Interestingly, the cross-talk between different compartments of P. kurroa, i.e., shoots and stolons, resolved spatial complexity of P-II biosynthesis and consequently speculated the burgeoning necessity to bridge gap between VA and P-II production in P. kurroa shoots. This work thus, offers a forward looking strategy to produce both P-I and P-II in shoot cultures, a step toward providing a sustainable production platform for these medicinal compounds via-à-vis relieving pressure from natural habitat of P. kurroa.


NGS transcriptomes; Picrorhiza kurroa; correlation; metabolic flux; picrosides

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