, Volume 30, Issue 10, pp 1919-1928
Date: 08 Jun 2011

Over-expression of HMG-CoA reductase and amorpha-4,11-diene synthase genes in Artemisia annua L. and its influence on artemisinin content

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Artemisinin, an endoperoxide sesquiterpene lactone, is a novel antimalarial natural product isolated from Artemisia annua L. plants. The low concentrations (0.01–1.1%) of this compound in A. annua L. plants is, however, a major constraint for commercialization of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) recommended by WHO for treating malaria caused by multidrug-resistant P. falciparum sp. In this context, in vivo yield improvement programs were undertaken by us. In the present study, HMG-Co A reductase gene (hmgr) from Catharanthus roseus (L) G. Don and amorpha-4,11-diene synthase (ads) gene from A. annua L. were over-expressed in A. annua L. plants to study their effects on artemisinin yields. The transgenic lines developed from putative transgenic regenerants were evaluated for integration and copy number of the transgenes using hptII gene probe, as it was a part of the expression cassette. The transgenic lines showed positive bands of hptII gene on Southern blots confirming the integration of transgenes. Some of the transgenic lines had single copy of the transgenes, while others had multiple copies. The expressions of hmgr and ads at the transcriptional level were also confirmed in each transgenic line employing RT-PCR assays. The HPLC analyses showed that the artemisinin contents were significantly increased in these transgenics. One of the transgenic lines, TR4, was found to contain 7.65-fold higher (1.73 mg/gDW) artemisinin than the non-transgenic plant (W). The increased artemisinin levels were found to be correlated with HMG-Co A reductase and amorpha-4,11-diene synthase enzymatic activities in the biochemical analyses.

Communicated by P. Lakshmanan.