A new P450 involved in the furanocoumarin pathway underlies a recent case of convergent evolution

Cloé Villard, Ryosuke Munakata, Sakihito Kitajima, Robin Van Velzen, Eric M. Schranz, Romain Larbat, Alain Hehn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Furanocoumarins are phytoalexins often cited as an example to illustrate the arms race between plants and herbivorous insects. They are distributed in a limited number of phylogenetically distant plant lineages, but synthesized through a similar pathway, which raised the question of a unique or multiple emergence in higher plants.
The furanocoumarin pathway was investigated in the fig tree (Ficus carica, Moraceae). Transcriptomic and metabolomic approaches led to the identification of CYP76F112, a cytochrome P450 catalyzing an original reaction. CYP76F112 emergence was inquired using phylogenetics combined with in silico modelling and site-directed mutagenesis.
CYP76F112 was found to convert demethylsuberosin into marmesin with a very high affinity. This atypical cyclisation reaction represents a key step within the polyphenol biosynthesis pathway. CYP76F112 evolutionary patterns suggests that the marmesin synthase activity appeared recently in the Moraceae family, through a lineage-specific expansion and diversification.
The characterization of CYP76F112 as the first known marmesin synthase opens new prospects for the use of the furanocoumarin pathway. It also supports the multiple acquisition of furanocoumarin in angiosperms by convergent evolution, and opens new perspectives regarding the ability of cytochromes P450 to evolve new functions related to plant adaptation to their environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1923-1939
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number5
Early online date12 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021


  • convergent evolution
  • cytochrome P450
  • Ficus carica (fig tree)
  • furanocoumarins
  • marmesin synthase


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