The biosynthetic pathway of cytosolic isoprenoids bifurcates after farnesyl diphosphate into sesquiterpene and triterpene pathways. “Metabolic switching” has been used to increase sesquiterpene content in plants by suppressing the competitive triterpene pathway using transgenic technology. To develop “metabolic switching” without using transgenic technology, we developed a model system of “chemical metabolic switching” using inhibitors of the competitive pathway. Arabidopsis plants that overexpress the amorpha-4,11-diene synthase gene were treated with squalestatin, a squalene synthase inhibitor, or terbinafine, a squalene epoxidase inhibitor. We then analyzed total sterol content as major triterpenes and amorpha-4,11-diene in the plant. Plants treated with squalestatin showed decreased total sterol content and increased amorpha-4,11-diene content. In contrast, plants treated with terbinafine showed decreased total sterol content, but amorpha-4,11-diene accumulation was quite low. These results suggest that inhibition of the enzyme just below the branch point is more effective than inhibition of enzymes far from the branch point for “chemical metabolic switching”. In addition, the activity of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase, the rate-limiting enzyme of the cytosolic isoprenoid biosynthetic pathway, was upregulated in plants treated with squalestatin, suggesting that feedback regulation of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase may contribute to amorpha-4,11-diene production. Here we demonstrated the effectiveness of “chemical metabolic switching” in plants.
2017 by Japanese Society for Plant Cell and Molecular Biology