Functional Diversification and Structural Origins of Plant Natural Product Methyltransferases

Molecules. 2022 Dec 21;28(1):43. doi: 10.3390/molecules28010043.


In plants, methylation is a common step in specialized metabolic pathways, leading to a vast diversity of natural products. The methylation of these small molecules is catalyzed by S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM)-dependent methyltransferases, which are categorized based on the methyl-accepting atom (O, N, C, S, or Se). These methyltransferases are responsible for the transformation of metabolites involved in plant defense response, pigments, and cell signaling. Plant natural product methyltransferases are part of the Class I methyltransferase-superfamily containing the canonical Rossmann fold. Recent advances in genomics have accelerated the functional characterization of plant natural product methyltransferases, allowing for the determination of substrate specificities and regioselectivity and further realizing the potential for enzyme engineering. This review compiles known biochemically characterized plant natural product methyltransferases that have contributed to our knowledge in the diversification of small molecules mediated by methylation steps.

Keywords: bioactive molecules; enzyme; methyltransferase; pharmaceuticals; plant natural products; structure.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Products*
  • Methylation
  • Methyltransferases* / metabolism
  • Plants / genetics
  • Plants / metabolism
  • S-Adenosylmethionine / metabolism
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Methyltransferases
  • Biological Products
  • S-Adenosylmethionine