Evolution of synthetic nicotine decrypted by PNAS
Nicotine, the most important alkaloid in human tobacco addiction response, is a neurotoxin of tobacco active defense against herbivores. However, the evolutionary study of nicotine synthesis pathway has not been revealed. The researchers sequenced and assembled two wild tobacco genomes, Nicotiana attenuate (2.5 GB) and Nicotiana obtusifolia (1.5 GB), which are biological models with good adaptability in natural state.
The study found that after the whole genome triploid event in Solanaceae, the whole set of transposable factors in tobacco genome expanded, promoted the expression diversity of replicated genes, and promoted the formation of feeding induction signals and defense signals, including nicotine synthesis pathway. This biosynthetic mechanism of nicotine synthesis in roots comes from the gradual replication of two ancient primary metabolic pathways (polyamine and coenzyme pathway).
The replication event of polyamine pathway is common to Solanum plants, which can produce polyamine derived alkane alkaloids. In contrast, the replication of NAD pathway is species-specific. The replicated Solanum Kete has specific expression of ethylene response factor in plant roots and can activate the expression of all nicotine synthesis pathway genes. Therefore, tobacco can produce nicotine.
Transcription factor binding sites derived from transposons have made great contributions to the co expression of nicotine synthesis pathway genes and the regulation of metabolic flux. In conclusion, these results suggest that TEs and replication events promote the formation of key new metabolic pathways conducive to plant survival.
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