, Volume 83, Issue 1, pp 27-34
Date: 24 Mar 2009

Biosynthesis and biotechnological production of serotonin derivatives

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Serotonin derivatives belong to a class of phenylpropanoid amides found at low levels in a wide range of plant species. Representative serotonin derivatives include feruloylserotonin (FS) and 4-coumaroylserotonin (CS). Since the first identification of serotonin derivatives in safflower seeds, their occurrence, biological significance, and pharmacological properties have been reported. Recently, serotonin N-hydroxycinnamoyl transferase (SHT), which is responsible for the synthesis of serotonin derivatives, was cloned from pepper (Capsicum annuum) and characterized in terms of its enzyme kinetics. Using the SHT gene, many attempts have been made to either increase the level of serotonin derivatives in transgenic plants or produce serotonin derivatives de novo in microbes by dual expression of key genes such as SHT and 4-coumarate-CoA ligase (4CL). Due to the strong antioxidant activity and other therapeutic properties of serotonin derivatives, these compounds may have high potential in treatment and prophylaxis, as cosmetic ingredients, and as major components of functional foods or feeds that have health-improving effects. This review examines the biosynthesis of serotonin derivatives, corresponding enzymes, heterologous production in plants or microbes, and their applications.