Multiple genes of mevalonate and non-mevalonate pathways contribute to high aconites content in an endangered medicinal herb, Aconitum heterophyllum Wall

Nikhil MalhotraRajinder Singh Chauhan


Aconitum heterophyllum Wall, popularly known as Atis or Patis, is an important medicinal herb of North-Western and Eastern Himalayas. No information exists on molecular aspects of aconites biosynthesis, including atisine- the major chemical constituent of A. heterophyllum. Atisine content ranged from 0.14% to 0.37% and total alkaloids (aconites) from 0.20% to 2.49% among 14 accessions of A. heterophyllum. Two accessions contained the highest atisine content with 0.30% and 0.37% as well as the highest alkaloids content with 2.22% and 2.49%, respectively. No atisine was detected in leaves and shoots of A. heterophyllum, thereby, suggesting that the biosynthesis and accumulation of aconite alkaloids occur mainly in roots. Quantitative expression analysis of 15 genes of MVA/MEP pathways in roots versus shoots, differing for atisine content (0-2.2 folds) showed 11-100 folds increase in transcript amounts of 4 genes of MVA pathway; HMGS, HMGR, PMK, IPPI, and 4 genes of MEP pathway; DXPS, ISPD, HDS, GDPS, respectively. The overall expression of 8 genes decreased to 5-12 folds after comparative expression analysis between roots of high (0.37%) versus low (0.14%) atisine content accessions, but their relative transcript amounts remained...Continue Reading


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