Identification of triterpene biosynthetic genes from Momordica charantia using RNA-seq analysis

Shohei Takase, Kota Kera, Yuya Hirao, Tsutomu Hosouchi, Yuki Kotake, Yoshiki Nagashima, Kazuto Mannen, Hideyuki Suzuki, Tetsuo Kushiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Cucurbitaceae plants contain characteristic triterpenoids. Momordica charantia, known as a bitter melon, contains cucurbitacins and multiflorane type triterpenes, which confer bitter tasting and exhibit pharmacological activities. Their carbon skeletons are biosynthesized from 2,3-oxidosqua-lene by responsible oxidosqualene cyclase (OSC). In order to identify OSCs in M. charantia, RNA-seq analysis was carried out from ten different tissues. The functional analysis of the resulting four OSC genes revealed that they were cucurbitadienol synthase (McCBS), isomultiflorenol synthase (McIMS), β-amyrin synthase (McBAS) and cycloartenol synthase (McCAS), respectively. Their distinct expression patterns based on RPKM values and quantitative RT-PCR suggested how the characteristic triterpenoids were biosynthesized in each tissue. Although cucurbitacins were finally accumulated in fruits, McCBS showed highest expression in leaves indicating that the early step of cucurbitacins biosynthesis takes place in leaves, but not in fruits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-261
Number of pages11
JournalBioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Cucurbitacin
  • Momordica charantia
  • Oxidosqualene cyclase
  • RNA-seq
  • Triterpene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Organic Chemistry


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