THE POLYKETIDE ORIGINS OF CANNABINOIDS IN CANNABIS SATIVA
Phytocannabinoids are the active substances responsible for the medicinal and psychotropic effects of Cannabis sativa. Although the bioactivity of cannabis and its preparations have been known for millennia, several steps in the biosynthetic pathway leading to phytocannabinoids remain unclear. Phytocannabinoids are prenylated resorcylic acids which are formed in specialized plant organs called glandular trichomes. Following the analysis of a pre-generated cannabis trichome cDNA library, a type III polyketide synthase (tetraketide synthase; TKS) was identified and assayed, yielding three major compounds, hexanoyl triacetic acid lactone (HTAL), pentyl diacetic acid lactone (PDAL), and olivetol, yet no resorcylic acid was detected. This lack of resorcylic acid in enzyme assays has instigated the characterization of TKS and a search for putative cyclases in the cannabis trichome cDNA library, and involved protein pulldown, co-immunoprecipitation, and co-assay experiments. These experiments led to the discovery of a novel polyketide cyclase protein named olivetolic acid cyclase (OAC) responsible for the proper cyclization of a polyketide intermediate produced by TKS. This thesis shows that TKS assays conducted with OAC produce olivetolic acid (OA), an intermediate required during the biosynthesis of cannabinoids. The TKS/OAC spatial relationship was also investigated following the creation of fluorescent fusion proteins which show that the enzymes co-localized in vivo when viewed with confocal microscopy. Furthermore, yeast two-hybrid assays using TKS and OAC were performed to establish whether the enzymes physically interact. Finally, an attempt to determine the responsible amino acids involved in OAC’s mechanism was conducted by comparing the activity of single point OAC mutants with the wild-type OAC. Based on the available data, mechanisms for the production of HTAL, PDAL, olivetol, and OA are proposed.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
SupervisorPage, Jonathan E.
CommitteeGray, Gordon R.; Todd, Chris D.; Palmer, David R.; Jetter, Reinhard
Copyright DateOctober 2013
olivetolic acid cyclase
dimeric α + β barrel