Crop Biotech Update

Study Details How Plants Create Anticancer Compounds

March 23, 2016

A research group from Japan has revealed the details of the metabolic process for plant compounds used to treat cancer, arrhythmia, and other medical conditions on a cellular level. Their findings suggest the existence of an unknown mechanism which regulates the creation, movement and distribution of compounds within plants.

The researchers examined Catharanthus roseus (rosy periwinkle), a plant well known for producing the antitumor compounds classified as terpenoid indole alkaloids (TIAs). During the process of metabolizing TIAs, various intermediary compounds are created and travel across different cells, finally arriving at the idioblast or laticifer cells where they are stored. Until now it was unclear how each compound moved between cells, and how their creation and storage was controlled within each cell.

The team analyzed the cellular distribution of each compound within the tissue, and revealed that the compounds previously assumed to have been metabolized and stored in the epidermal cells were in fact present in large numbers in a totally different location – idioblast cells. These findings suggest an unknown mechanism that regulates the creation, movement and regulation of organic compounds within plants.

For more details, read the news release at the Kobe University website.