Benzophenanthridine alkaloids, such as sanguinarine, are produced from reticuline, a common intermediate in benzylisoquinoline alkaloid biosynthesis, via protopine. Four cytochrome P450s are involved in the biosynthesis of sanguinarine from reticuline; i.e. cheilanthifoline synthase (CYP719A5; EC 22.214.171.124.), stylopine synthase (CYP719A2/A3; EC 126.96.36.199.), N-methylstylopine hydroxylase (MSH) and protopine 6-hydroxylase (P6H; EC 188.8.131.52.). In this study, a cDNA of P6H was isolated from cultured Eschscholzia californica cells, based on an integrated analysis of metabolites and transcript expression profiles of transgenic cells with Coptis japonica scoulerine-9-O-methyltransferase. Using the full-length candidate cDNA for P6H (CYP82N2v2), recombinant protein was produced in Saccharomyces cerevisiae for characterization. The microsomal fraction containing recombinant CYP82N2v2 showed typical reduced CO-difference spectra of P450, and production of dihydrosanguinarine and dihydrochelerythrine from protopine and allocryptopine, respectively. Further characterization of the substrate-specificity of CYP82N2v2 indicated that 6-hydroxylation played a role in the reaction.
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