Aromatic and pyrone polyketides synthesized by a stilbene synthase from Rheum tataricum

Supachai Samappito, Jonathan E. Page, Jürgen Schmidt, Wanchai De-Eknamkul, Toni M. Kutchan

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43 Scopus citations


A cDNA encoding a stilbene synthase, RtSTS, was isolated from the rhizomes of Tatar rhubarb, Rheum tataricum L. (Polygonaceae), a medicinal plant containing stilbenes and other polyketides. Recombinant RtSTS was expressed in E. coli and assayed with acetyl-coenzyme A (CoA), n-butyryl-CoA, isovaleryl-CoA, n-hexanoyl-CoA, cinnamoyl-CoA and p-coumaroyl-CoA as primers of polyketide synthesis. RtSTS synthesized resveratrol and a trace amount of naringenin chalcone from p-coumaroyl-CoA, supporting the enzyme's identification as a resveratrol-type stilbene synthase (EC Bis-noryangonin and p-coumaroyl triacetic acid lactone (CTAL)-type pyrones were observed in minor amounts in the reaction with p-coumaroyl-CoA and as major products with cinnamoyl CoA. As well, such pyrones, and not aromatic polyketides, were identified as the only products in assays with aliphatic and benzoyl CoA esters. Acetonyl-4-hydroxy-2-pyrone, a pyrone synthesized from acetyl-CoA, was identified as a new product of a stilbene synthase. Using Northern blot analysis, RtSTS transcript was found to be highly expressed in R. tataricum rhizomes, with low transcript levels also present in young leaves. This expression pattern correlated with the occurrence of resveratrol, which was detected in higher amounts in R. tataricum rhizomes compared with leaves and petioles using HPLC. Few stilbene synthases have been found in plants, and the identification of RtSTS provides additional sequence and catalytic information with which to study the evolution of plant polyketide synthases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-323
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2003


  • Chalcone synthase
  • Polygonaceae
  • Polyketide synthase
  • Pyrone
  • Resveratrol
  • Rheum tataricum L.
  • Stilbene synthase
  • Tatar rhubarb


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