Biosynthesis and biotechnological production of the anti-obesity agent celastrol

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Obesity is a major health risk still lacking effective pharmacological treatment. A potent anti-obesity agent, celastrol, has been identified in the roots of Tripterygium wilfordii. However, an efficient synthetic method is required to better explore its biological utility. Here we elucidate the 11 missing steps for the celastrol biosynthetic route to enable its de novo biosynthesis in yeast. First, we reveal the cytochrome P450 enzymes that catalyse the four oxidation steps that produce the key intermediate celastrogenic acid. Subsequently, we show that non-enzymatic decarboxylation-triggered activation of celastrogenic acid leads to a cascade of tandem catechol oxidation-driven double-bond extension events that generate the characteristic quinone methide moiety of celastrol. Using this acquired knowledge, we have developed a method for producing celastrol starting from table sugar. This work highlights the effectiveness of combining plant biochemistry with metabolic engineering and chemistry for the scalable synthesis of complex specialized metabolites. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

TidsskriftNature Chemistry
Sider (fra-til)1236–1246
StatusUdgivet - 2023

Bibliografisk note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.

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