Germacrene A is a product of the Aristolochene Synthase mediated conversion of Farnesylpyrpophosphate to Aristolochene

Melanie Calvert, Peter Ashton, Rudolf Allemann

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59 Citations (Scopus)


The biosynthesis of several sesquiterpenes has been proposed to proceed via germacrene A. However, to date, the production of germacrene A has not been proven directly for any of the sesquiterpene synthases for which it was postulated as an intermediate. We demonstrate here for the first time that significant amounts of germacrene A (7.5% of the total amount of products) are indeed released from wild-type aristolochene synthase (AS) from Penicillium roqueforti. Germacrene A was identified through direct GC-MS comparison to an authentic sample and through production of beta-elemene in a thermal Cope rearrangement. AS also produced a small amount of valencene through deprotonation of C6 rather than C8 in the final step of the reaction. On the basis of the X-ray structure of AS, Tyr 92 was postulated to be the active-site acid responsible for protonation of germacrene A (Caruthers, J. M.; Kang, L; Rynkiewicz, M. J.; Cane, D. E.; Christianson, D. W. J. Biol. Chem. 2000, 275, 25533-25539). The CID spectra of a mutant protein, ASY92F, in which Tyr 92 was replaced by Phe, and of AS were very similar. ASY92F was approximately 0.1% as active as nonmutated recombinant AS. The steady-state kinetic parameters were measured as 0.138 min(-1) and 0.189 mM for k(cat) and K-M, respectively. Similar to a mutant protein of 5-epiaristolochene (Rising, K. A.; Starks, C. M.; Noel, J. P.; Chappell, J. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2000, 122, 1861 1866), the mutant released significant amounts of germacrene A (similar to29%). ASY92F also produced various amounts of a further five hydrocarbons of molecular weight 204, valencene, beta-(E)-farnesene, alpha- and beta-selinene, and selina-4,11-diene.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11636-11641
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002


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