Chemistry and biology: alkaloid biosynthesis in plants

Published on February 1, 2013

Many enzymatic transformations are utilized in the biosynthesis of the monoterpene indole alkaloids, a group of structurally diverse natural products. Here we describe the discovery, functional characterization and mechanistic study of several enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of the monoterpene indole alkaloids in Catharanthus roseus. Also discussed are the implications of this work in the metabolic engineering of natural products.

Sarah O'Connor | John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK

Sarah O’Connor performed her graduate work on protein glycosylation with Professor Barbara Imperiali at both the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston, MA. She received her PhD from MIT in 2001. She was an Irving Sigal post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Professor Chris Walsh at Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA from 2001-2003, where she studied the biosynthesis of microbe-derived natural products. After her post-doctoral work, she became assistant and then associate professor of Chemistry at MIT. In 2011 she moved her research group to the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK where she is a Project Leader in the Department of Biological Chemistry. She is also a Professor of Chemistry at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK.


The original research article is published in Nature.

Geu-Flores, F.; Sherden. N. H.; Courdavault, V.; Burlat, V.; Glenn, W. S.; Wu, C.; Nims, E.; Cui, Y.; O’Connor, S. E., An alternative route to cyclic terpenes by reductive cyclization in iridoid biosynthesis, Nature 2012. doi:10.1038/nature11692

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