Reverse pharmacognosy: identifying biological properties for plants by means of their molecule constituents: application to meranzin

Planta Med. 2007 Oct;73(12):1235-40. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-990216. Epub 2007 Sep 13.


Reverse pharmacognosy aims at finding biological targets for natural compounds by virtual or real screening and identifying natural resources that contain the active molecules. We report herein a study focused on the identification of biological properties of meranzin, a major component isolated from Limnocitrus littoralis (Miq.) Swingle. Selnergy, an IN SILICO biological profiling software, was used to identify putative binding targets of meranzin. Among the 400 screened proteins, 3 targets were selected: COX1, COX2 and PPARgamma. Binding tests were realised for these 3 protein candidates, as well as two negative controls. The predictions made by Selnergy were consistent with the experimental results, meaning that these 3 targets can be modulated by an extract containing this compound in a suitable concentration. These results demonstrate that reverse pharmacognosy and its inverse docking component is a powerful tool to identify biological properties for natural molecules and hence for plants containing these compounds.

MeSH terms

  • Coumarins / chemistry
  • Coumarins / isolation & purification
  • Coumarins / metabolism*
  • Cyclooxygenase 1 / metabolism
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / metabolism
  • Epoxy Compounds / chemistry
  • Epoxy Compounds / isolation & purification
  • Epoxy Compounds / metabolism
  • Molecular Structure
  • PPAR gamma / metabolism
  • Pharmacognosy*
  • Protein Interaction Mapping*
  • Rutaceae / chemistry*


  • Coumarins
  • Epoxy Compounds
  • PPAR gamma
  • meranzin
  • Cyclooxygenase 1
  • Cyclooxygenase 2