Molecular dissection of pathway components unravel atisine biosynthesis in a non-toxic Aconitum species, A. heterophyllum Wall

Varun Kumar, Nikhil Malhotra, Tarun Pal, Rajinder Singh Chauhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Aconitum heterophyllum is an important component for various herbal drug formulations due to the occurrence of non-toxic aconites including marker compound, atisine. Despite huge pharmacological potential, the reprogramming of aconites production is limited due to lack of understanding on their biosynthesis. To address this problem, we have proposed here the complete atisine biosynthetic pathway for the first time connecting glycolysis, MVA/MEP, serine biosynthesis and diterpene biosynthetic pathways. The transcript profiling revealed phosphorylated pathway as a major contributor towards serine production in addition to repertoire of genes in glycolysis (G6PI, PFK, ALD and ENO), serine biosynthesis (PGDH and PSAT) and diterpene biosynthesis (KO and KH) sharing a similar pattern of expression (2-4-folds) in roots compared to shoots vis-à-vis atisine content (0–0.37 %). Quantification of steviol and comparative analysis of shortlisted genes between roots of high (0.37 %) vs low (0.14 %) atisine content accessions further confirmed the route of atisine biosynthesis. The results showed 6-fold increase in steviol content and 3–62-fold up-regulation of all the selected genes in roots of high content accession ascertaining their association towards atisine production. Moreover, significant positive correlations were observed between selected genes suggesting their co-expression and crucial role in atisine biosynthesis. This study, thus, offers unprecedented opportunities to explore the selected candidate genes for enhanced production of atisine in cultivated plant cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106
Journal3 Biotech
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • A. heterophyllum
  • Atisine
  • Biosynthesis
  • Correlations
  • Steviol
  • Transcriptome
  • qPCR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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