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Chemical Inhibitors Suggest Endophytic Fungal Paclitaxel Is Derived from Both Mevalonate and Non-mevalonate-like Pathways

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journal contribution
posted on 27.12.2011, 00:00 by Sameh S. M. Soliman, Rong Tsao, Manish N. Raizada
Taxus trees possess fungal endophytes reported to produce paclitaxel. Inhibitors that block early steps in plant paclitaxel biosynthesis were applied to a paclitaxel-producing fungus to determine whether these steps are shared. The plant paclitaxel backbone is reportedly derived from the non-mevalonate terpenoid pathway, while the side chain is phenylalanine-derived. Evidence that the shikimate pathway contributes to fungal paclitaxel was shown by decreased paclitaxel accumulation following inhibition of phenylalanine ammonia lyase. Expression of another shikimate pathway enzyme, 3-dehydroquinate synthase, coincided with paclitaxel production. The importance of the mevalonate pathway in fungal paclitaxel biosynthesis was shown by inhibition of fungal paclitaxel accumulation using compactin, a specific inhibitor of 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-CoA reductase. Expression of another mevalonate pathway enzyme, 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-CoA synthase, coincided with fungal paclitaxel accumulation. Unexpectedly, results from using fosmidomycin suggested that fungal paclitaxel requires 1-deoxy-d-xylulose-5-phosphate reductoisomerase (DXR), an enzyme in the 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol-4-phosphate (MEP) pathway normally found in bacteria/plants. Additional lines of evidence support this finding; first, a plant DXR antibody recognized a fungal peptide of the correct size; second, expression of an apparent fungal DXR ortholog correlated to changes in paclitaxel production; finally, BLAST searching identified a gene putatively encoding 1-deoxy-d-xylulose-5-phosphate synthase, the first enzyme in the MEP pathway in Aspergillus.