A multiproduct terpene synthase from Medicago truncatula generates cadalane sesquiterpenes via two different mechanisms

J Org Chem. 2010 Aug 20;75(16):5590-600. doi: 10.1021/jo100917c.


Terpene synthases are responsible for a large diversity of terpene carbon skeletons found in nature. The multiproduct sesquiterpene synthase MtTPS5 isolated from Medicago truncatula produces 27 products from farnesyl diphosphate (1, FDP). In this paper, we report the reaction steps involved in the formation of these products using incubation experiments with deuterium-containing substrates; we determined the absolute configuration of individual products to establish the stereochemical course of the reaction cascade and the initial conformation of the cycling substrate. Additional labeling experiments conducted with deuterium oxide showed that cadalane sesquiterpenes are mainly produced via the protonation of the neutral intermediate germacrene D (5). These findings provide an alternative route to the general accepted pathway via nerolidyl diphosphate (2, NDP) en route to sesquiterpenes with a cadalane skeleton. Mutational analysis of the enzyme demonstrated that a tyrosine residue is important for the protonation process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkyl and Aryl Transferases / chemistry
  • Alkyl and Aryl Transferases / isolation & purification
  • Alkyl and Aryl Transferases / metabolism*
  • Biocatalysis
  • Medicago truncatula / enzymology*
  • Molecular Structure
  • Sesquiterpenes / chemical synthesis*
  • Sesquiterpenes / chemistry
  • Stereoisomerism


  • Sesquiterpenes
  • Alkyl and Aryl Transferases
  • terpene synthase