Biosynthesis and localization of parthenolide in glandular trichomes of feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium L. Schulz Bip.)

M. Majdi, Q. Liu, G. Karimzadeh, M.A. Malboobi, J. Beekwilder, K. Cankar, C.H. de Vos, S. Todorovic, A. Simonovic, H.J. Bouwmeester

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68 Citations (Scopus)


Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is a perennial medicinal herb and is a rich source of sesquiterpene lactones. Parthenolide is the main sesquiterpene lactone in feverfew and has attracted attention because of its medicinal potential for treatment of migraine and cancer. In the present work the parthenolide content in different tissues and developmental stages of feverfew was analyzed to study the timing and localization of parthenolide biosynthesis. The strongest accumulating tissue was subsequently used to isolate sesquiterpene synthases with the goal to isolate the gene encoding the first dedicated step in parthenolide biosynthesis. This led to the isolation and charachterization of a germacrene A synthase (TpGAS) and an (E)-ß-caryophyllene synthase (TpCarS). Transcript level patterns of both sesquiterpene synthases were analyzed in different tissues and glandular trichomes. Although TpGAS was expressed in all aerial tissues, the highest expression was observed in tissues that contain high concentrations of parthenolide and in flowers the highest expression was observed in the biosynthetically most active stages of flower development. The high expression of TpGAS in glandular trichomes which also contain the highest concentration of parthenolide, suggests that glandular trichomes are the secretory tissues where parthenolide biosynthesis and accumulation occur.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1739-1750
Issue number14-15
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • germacrene-a synthase
  • artemisia-annua l
  • sesquiterpene lactones
  • gene-expression
  • amorpha-4,11-diene synthase
  • developmental regulation
  • migraine prophylaxis
  • double-blind
  • in-vitro
  • asteraceae

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