In this paper, we investigate the effects of artemisinic acid on the growth and alkaloids production of Catharanthus roseus cell cultures. For the first time, we have shown that artemisinic acid could promote the production of catharanthine in C. roseus suspension cell cultures. The highest total catharanthine yield (0.584 mg/flask) was obtained with the addition of 60 mg·L-1 artemisinic acid after 96 h, which was 4.95 fold of that in ethanol treated group (0.118 mg/flask). In order to elucidate the underlying mechanism, transcriptional levels of geraniol 10-hydroxylase (G10H), strictosidine β-D-glucosidase (SGD), tryptophan decarboxylase (TDC) and strictosidine synthase (STR) were measured by RT-PCR. The results indicated that artemisinic acid may be able to up-regulate G10H,SGD and TDC expressions without affecting STR expression. In addition, growth of C. roseus suspension cells was inhibited at high concentrations (more than 20 mg·L-1) of artemisinic acid. No vindoline was observed in C. roseus suspension cell cultures.
Key words: Catharanthus roseus, cultured cells, catharanthine, vindoline, artemisinic acid, gene expression.
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