Background: Salvia diterpenes have been found to have health promoting properties. Among them, carnosic acid and carnosol, tanshinones and sclareol are well known for their cardiovascular, antitumor, antiinflammatory and antioxidant activities. However, many of these compounds are not available at a constant supply and developing biotechnological methods for their production could provide a sustainable alternative. The transcriptome of S.pomifera glandular trichomes was analysed aiming to identify genes that could be used in the engineering of synthetic microbial systems.
Results: In the present study, a thorough metabolite analysis of S. pomifera leaves led to the isolation and structure elucidation of carnosic acid-family metabolites including one new natural product. These labdane diterpenes seem to be synthesized through miltiradiene and ferruginol. Transcriptomic analysis of the glandular trichomes from the S. pomifera leaves revealed two genes likely involved in miltiradiene synthesis. Their products were identified and the corresponding enzymes were characterized as copalyl diphosphate synthase (SpCDS) and miltiradiene synthase (SpMilS). In addition, several CYP-encoding transcripts were identified providing a valuable resource for the identification of the biosynthetic mechanism responsible for the production of carnosic acid-family metabolites in S. pomifera.
Conclusions: Our work has uncovered the key enzymes involved in miltiradiene biosynthesis in S. pomifera leaf glandular trichomes. The transcriptomic dataset obtained provides a valuable tool for the identification of the CYPs involved in the synthesis of carnosic acid-family metabolites.