Expressed sequence tag analysis of khat (Catha edulis) provides a putative molecular biochemical basis for the biosynthesis of phenylpropylamino alkaloids.

Hagel, J.M., Krizevski, R., Kilpatrick, K.G., Sitrit, Y., Marsolais, F., Lewinsohn, E., and Facchini, P.J. (2011). "Expressed sequence tag analysis of khat (Catha edulis) provides a putative molecular biochemical basis for the biosynthesis of phenylpropylamino alkaloids.", Genetics and Molecular Biology, 34, pp. 640-646. doi : 10.1590/S1415-47572011000400017  Access to full text

Abstract

Khat (Catha edulis Forsk.) is a flowering perennial shrub cultivated for its neurostimulant properties resulting mainly from the occurrence of (S)-cathinone in young leaves. The biosynthesis of (S)-cathinone and the related phenylpropylamino alkaloids (1S,2S)-cathine and (1R,2S)-norephedrine is not well characterized in plants. We prepared a cDNA library from young khat leaves and sequenced 4,896 random clones, generating an expressed sequence tag (EST) library of 3,293 unigenes. Putative functions were assigned to > 98% of the ESTs, providing a key resource for gene discovery. Candidates potentially involved at various stages of phenylpropylamino alkaloid biosynthesis from L-phenylalanine to (1S,2S)-cathine were identified.

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