Chimonanthine is the building block of a series of natural products found in terrestrial plants including members of Psychotria in the family of Rubiaceae. Studies have shown that alkaloids containing the chimonanthine core display interesting analgesic, inhibition of melanogenesis, and anti-cancer activities. The goal of this study is to explore the precursor directed biosynthesis of chimonanthine and the enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of chimoanthine as well as to identify these enzymes for potential use as biocatalysts that can generate libraries of modified natural products. Herein we report the identification of a suitable plant containing these enzymes and demonstrate the feasibility of new assays by showing that feeding of plants with synthetic precursors leads to the production of labelled chimonanthine.
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