Metabolic reprogramming of periwinkle plant culture
Weerawat Runguphan1and Sarah E O'Connor1
Nature Chemical Biology reports that MIT Chemistry graduate student Weerawat Runguphan, left, Sarah E. O'Connor, Latham Family Career Development Associate Professor of Chemistry, rear, and MIT chemistry graduate student Peter Bernhardt, right, have transformed an alkaloid biosynthetic gene with reengineered substrate specificity into Catharanthus roseus.
The resulting transgenic plant cell culture produced a variety of unnatural alkaloid compounds when cocultured with simple, achiral, commercially available precursors that the reengineered enzyme was designed to accept. This work demonstrates the power of genetic engineering to retailor the structures of complex alkaloid natural products in plant culture.