Pharmaceutical biology

Bifunctional CYP81AA proteins catalyse identical hydroxylations but alternative regioselective phenol couplings in plant xanthone biosynthesis

Prof. Dr. Ludger Beerhues, Technische Universität Braunschweig

Published in: Nature Communications 7, 11472 (2016)

St. John’s wort is one of our most important medicinal plants. Its highly concentrated extract is used as a therapy option to treat mild to moderate depression. Although the herb’s mechanism of action is not known in detail, it must nonetheless be the chemistry within the plant that triggers the pharmacodynamics. Prof. Dr. Ludger Beerhues and his team have dedicated themselves to the long-neglected xanthones in Hypericum. By means of gene expression analyses, homology studies, heterology expression of enzymes and their mutagenesis, as well as modelling studies – the entire spectrum of modern biotechnology – the group could describe details relating to the molecular mechanism of action of enzymes in xanthone biosynthesis.