Synthesis and trafficking of alkaloid biosynthetic enzymes

Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2005 Dec;8(6):657-66. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2005.09.008. Epub 2005 Sep 22.


The biosynthesis of plant natural products involves a large number of enzymes that create and elaborate a bewildering array of chemical structures, which are generally involved in ecophysiological interactions. Alkaloids are one of the largest groups of natural products and are generally produced through an assortment of intricate pathways. The application of molecular biochemical approaches to investigate the cell biology of alkaloid pathways has revealed a paradigm for the complex, yet highly ordered, organization of biosynthetic enzymes at both the cellular and subcellular levels. Many different cell types have been implicated in alkaloid formation and storage, in one case suggesting the intercellular transport of enzymes. The localization of enzymes to numerous cellular compartments shows the importance of protein targeting in the assembly of alkaloid pathways. Recent studies have also pointed to the possible interaction of biosynthetic enzymes in multi-enzyme complexes. These processes must be considered to be integral components of the mechanisms that regulate alkaloid biosynthesis and perhaps other natural product pathways.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / biosynthesis*
  • Alkaloids / chemistry
  • Indoles / chemistry
  • Indoles / metabolism
  • Plants / chemistry
  • Plants / enzymology*
  • Plants / genetics
  • Plants / metabolism
  • Protein Transport


  • Alkaloids
  • Indoles