CYP82Y1 is N-Methylcanadine 1-Hydroxylase, a Key Noscapine Biosynthetic Enzyme in Opium Poppy [Metabolism]

December 9th, 2013 by Dang, T.-T. T., Facchini, P. J.

Noscapine is a phthalideisoquinoline alkaloid investigated for its potent pharmacological properties. Although structurally elucidated more than a century ago, the biosynthesis of noscapine has not been established. Radiotracer studies have shown that noscapine is derived from the protoberberine alkaloid (S)-scoulerine and has been proposed to proceed through (S)-N-methylcanadine. However, pathway intermediates involved in the conversion of N-methylcanadine to noscapine have not been identified. We report the isolation and characterization of the cytochrome P450 CYP82Y1, which catalyzes the 1-hydroxylation of N-methylcanadine to 1-hydroxy-N-methylcanadine. Comparison of transcript and metabolite profiles of eight opium poppy chemotypes revealed four cytochrome P450s, three from the CYP82 and one from the CYP719 families, that were tightly correlated with noscapine accumulation. Recombinant CYP82Y1 was the only enzyme that accepted (R,S)-N-methylcanadine as a substrate with strict specificity and high affinity. As expected, CYP82Y1 was abundantly expressed in opium poppy stems where noscapine accumulation is highest among plant organs. Suppression of CYP82Y1 using virus-induced gene silencing caused a significant reduction in the levels of noscapine, narcotoline and a putative downstream secoberbine intermediate, and also resulted in increased accumulation of the upstream pathway intermediates scoulerine, tetrahydrocolumbamine, canadine, and N-methylcanadine. The combined biochemical and physiological data support the 1-hydroxylation of (S)-N-methylcanadine catalyzed by CYP82Y1 as the first committed step in the formation of noscapine in opium poppy.