Tracing the biosynthetic origin of limonoids and their functional groups through stable isotope labeling and inhibition in neem tree (Azadirachta indica) cell suspension

Title Tracing the biosynthetic origin of limonoids and their functional groups through stable isotope labeling and inhibition in neem tree (Azadirachta indica) cell suspension
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsAarthy, T, Mulani, FA, Pandreka, A, Kumar, A, Nandikol, SS, Haldar, S, Thulasiram, HV
JournalBMC Plant Biology
Date PublishedOCT
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number1471-2229

Background Neem tree serves as a cornucopia for triterpenoids called limonoids that are of profound interest to humans due to their diverse biological activities. However, the biosynthetic pathway that plant employs for the production of limonoids remains unexplored for this wonder tree.

Results Herein, we report the tracing of limonoid biosynthetic pathway through feeding experiments using C-13 isotopologues of glucose in neem cell suspension. Growth and development specific limonoid spectrum of neem seedling and time dependent limonoid biosynthetic characteristics of cell lines were established. Further to understand the role of mevalonic acid (MVA) and methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathways in limonoid biosynthesis, Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography (UPLC)- tandem mass spectrometry based structure-fragment relationship developed for limonoids and their isotopologues have been utilized. Analyses of labeled limonoid extract lead to the identification of signature isoprenoid units involved in azadirachtin and other limonoid biosynthesis, which are found to be formed through mevalonate pathway. This was further confirmed by treatment of cell suspension with mevinolin, a specific inhibitor for MVA pathway, which resulted in drastic decrease in limonoid levels whereas their biosynthesis was unaffected with fosmidomycin mediated plastidial methylerythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway inhibition. This was also conspicuous, as the expression level of genes encoding for the rate-limiting enzyme of MVA pathway, 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-coenzyme A reductase (HMGR) was comparatively higher to that of deoxyxylulose-phosphate synthase (DXS) of MEP pathway in different tissues and also in the in vitro grown cells. Thus, this study will give a comprehensive understanding of limonoid biosynthetic pathway with differential contribution of MVA and MEP pathways.

Conclusions Limonoid biosynthesis of neem tree and cell lines have been unraveled through comparative quantification of limonoids with that of neem tree and through C-13 limonoid isotopologues analysis. The undifferentiated cell lines of neem suspension produced a spectrum of C-seco limonoids, similar to parental tissue, kernel. Azadirachtin, a C-seco limonoid is produced in young tender leaves of plant whereas in the hard mature leaves of tree, ring intact limonoid nimocinol accumulates in high level. Furthermore, mevalonate pathway exclusively contributes for isoprene units of limonoids as evidenced through stable isotope labeling and no complementation of MEP pathway was observed with mevalonate pathway dysfunction, using chemical inhibitors.

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Organic Chemistry