Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genetic discovery unlocks biosynthesis of medicinal compound in poppy

Date:
May 31, 2012
Source:
University of York
Summary:
Scientists have discovered a complex gene cluster responsible for the synthesis of the medicinal compound noscapine.

Scientists at the University of York and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Australia have discovered a complex gene cluster responsible for the synthesis of the medicinal compound noscapine.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of York

Scientists at the University of York and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Australia have discovered a complex gene cluster responsible for the synthesis of the medicinal compound noscapine.

The discovery, published in the latest issue of Science, reveals that the pathway for synthesis of noscapine is controlled by a complex cluster of ten genes encoding five different enzyme classes. This is the most complex gene cluster ever found in plants. The discovery has revealed the previously unknown biochemical pathway for noscapine synthesis. It will also greatly accelerate the breeding of high-noscapine poppy varieties.

The breakthrough came when the scientists discovered that poppy varieties that produce noscapine express a number of genes that are absent in varieties that are noscapine free. They then analysed the inheritance pattern of these genes in hundreds of offspring from crosses between noscapine and no-noscapine varieties. When they saw that all of these genes are inherited together, they realised they could be looking at an incredibly complex gene cluster. The identity and arrangement of genes in the cluster was determined by cloning and DNA sequencing.

Professor Ian Graham, Director of the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products at the University of York, said: “We were amazed to find that this gene cluster encodes for almost the entire biosynthetic pathway for noscapine. With this one discovery we have been able to produce an outline of the pathway and define a number of the steps involved - something that normally takes years.”

Noscapine has been used as a suppressant in cough mixtures for decades. More recently, it has been reported to have anti-cancer activity and is currently in early stage clinical trials. Noscapine was one of the first natural products to be chemically characterised almost 200 years ago. Until now, however, the pathway for production and the genes involved in its synthesis have not been identified.

Tim Bowser, Head of R&D for GSK Australia’s Opiates Division, said: “The fact that the genes are grouped in a cluster means that plant breeding becomes faster and easier. GSK are using this discovery to develop high yielding commercial noscapine poppies in order to establish a reliable route of supply.”

Commercial poppy farming traditionally involved lancing the seed capsule to release the latex from which medicinal alkaloids, including noscapine, could be extracted. Since the 1960s commercial industrial techniques have largely switched to large scale poppy harvesting and extraction focussed on other medicinal poppy alkaloids like morphine and thebaine used to manufacture pain medicines. This trend has developed at the expense of noscapine which until now was only available from traditional techniques. 


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of York. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Thilo Winzer, Valeria Gazda, Zhesi He, Filip Kaminski, Marcelo Kern, Tony R. Larson, Yi Li, Fergus Meade, Roxana Teodor, Fabián E. Vaistij, Carol Walker, Tim A. Bowser, and Ian A. Graham. A Papaver somniferum 10-Gene Cluster for Synthesis of the Anticancer Alkaloid Noscapine. Science, 31 May 2012 DOI: 10.1126/science.1220757

Cite This Page:

University of York. "Genetic discovery unlocks biosynthesis of medicinal compound in poppy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120531102111.htm>.
University of York. (2012, May 31). Genetic discovery unlocks biosynthesis of medicinal compound in poppy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120531102111.htm
University of York. "Genetic discovery unlocks biosynthesis of medicinal compound in poppy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120531102111.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) — An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

AFP (July 23, 2014) — America may be the world’s richest country, but in terms of healthcare, the World Health Organisation ranks it 37th. Thousands turned out for a free clinic run by "Remote Area Medical" with a visit from the Governor of Virginia. Duration: 2:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) — The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) — The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins