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Effects of Exogenous Methyl Jasmonate on the Biosynthesis of Shikonin Derivatives in Callus Tissues of Arnebia euchroma

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The shikonin derivatives, accumulated in the roots of Arnebia euchroma (Boraginaceae), showed antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor activities. To explore their possible biosynthesis regulation mechanism, this paper investigated the effects of exogenous methyl jasmonate (MJ) on the biosynthesis of shikonin derivatives in callus cultures of A. euchroma. The main results include: Under MJ treatment, the growth of A. euchroma callus cultures was not inhibited, but the expression level of both the genes involved in the biosynthesis of shikonin derivatives and their precursors and the genes responsible for intracellular localization of shikonin derivatives increased significantly in the Red Strain (shikonin derivatives high-producing strain). The quantitative analysis showed that six out of the seven naphthoquinone compounds under investigation increased their contents in the MJ-treated Red Strain, and in particular, the bioactive component acetylshikonin nearly doubled its content in the MJ-treated Red Strain. In addition, it was also observed that the metabolic profiling of naphthoquinone compounds changed significantly after MJ treatment, and the MJ-treated and MJ-untreated strains clearly formed distinct clusters in the score plot of PLS-DA. Our results provide some new insights into the regulation mechanism of the biosynthesis of shikonin derivatives and a possible way to increase the production of naphthoquinone compounds in A. euchroma callus cultures in the future.

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AeAP :

Arnebia euchroma apoplastic protein gene

AeC4H :

Arnebia euchroma cinnamic acid 4-hydroxylase gene

Ae4CL :

Arnebia euchroma 4-coumarate:CoA ligase gene

AeDI2 :

Arnebia euchroma darkinducible gene 2


Geranyl diphosphate


Arnebia euchroma geranyl pyrophosphate synthase gene




Arnebia euchroma 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutarylcoenzyme A reductase gene


Arnebia euchroma p-hydroxybenzoate 3-geranyltransferase gene


2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid


Dry weight




Indoleacetic acid


Methyl jasmonate


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The authors would like to thank Mr. Pengyue Li (Institute of Chinese Materia Medica, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences) for his help in HPLC and LC-MS analyses. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 61173098).

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Correspondence to Hong Wang.

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Hao, H., Lei, C., Dong, Q. et al. Effects of Exogenous Methyl Jasmonate on the Biosynthesis of Shikonin Derivatives in Callus Tissues of Arnebia euchroma . Appl Biochem Biotechnol 173, 2198–2210 (2014).

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