Tropinone reductases, enzymes at the branch point of tropane alkaloid metabolism

Phytochemistry. 2006 Feb;67(4):327-37. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2005.12.001. Epub 2006 Jan 19.


Two stereospecific oxidoreductases constitute a branch point in tropane alkaloid metabolism. Products of tropane metabolism are the alkaloids hyoscyamine, scopolamine, cocaine, and polyhydroxylated nortropane alkaloids, the calystegines. Both tropinone reductases reduce the precursor tropinone to yield either tropine or pseudotropine. In Solanaceae, tropine is incorporated into hyoscyamine and scopolamine; pseudotropine is the first specific metabolite on the way to the calystegines. Isolation, cloning and heterologous expression of both tropinone reductases enabled kinetic characterisation, protein crystallisation, and structure elucidation. Stereospecificity of reduction is achieved by binding tropinone in the respective enzyme active centre in opposite orientation. Immunolocalisation of both enzyme proteins in cultured roots revealed a tissue-specific protein accumulation. Metabolite flux through both arms of the tropane alkaloid pathway appears to be regulated by the activity of both enzymes and by their access to the precursor tropinone. Both tropinone reductases are NADPH-dependent short-chain dehydrogenases with amino acid sequence similarity of more than 50% suggesting their descent from a common ancestor. Putative tropinone reductase sequences annotated in plant genomes other that Solanaceae await functional characterisation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases / chemistry
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases / metabolism*
  • Alkaloids / metabolism
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Atropine / metabolism
  • Belladonna Alkaloids / chemistry
  • Belladonna Alkaloids / metabolism*
  • Binding Sites
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Kinetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • NADP / metabolism
  • Scopolamine / metabolism
  • Solanaceae / metabolism
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Tropanes / metabolism


  • Alkaloids
  • Belladonna Alkaloids
  • Tropanes
  • calystegin
  • NADP
  • Atropine
  • tropine
  • Scopolamine
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases
  • tropinone reductase