454 EST analysis detects genes putatively involved in ginsenoside biosynthesis in Panax ginseng

S. Chen*, H. Luo, Y. Li, Y. Sun, Q. Wu, Y. Niu, J. Song, A. Lv, Y. Zhu, C. Sun, A. Steinmetz, Z. Qian

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    149 Citations (Scopus)


    Panax ginseng C. A. Meyer is one of the most highly valued medicinal plants in the world. To analyze the transcriptome of P. ginseng and discover the genes involved in ginsenoside biosynthesis, cDNAs derived from the total RNA of 11-year-old, wood-grown P. ginseng roots were analyzed by 454 sequencing. A total of 217,529 high quality reads (expressed sequence tags, ESTs), with an average length of 409 bases, were generated from a one-quarter run to yield 31,741 unique sequences. The majority (20,198; 63.6%) of the unique sequences were annotated using BLAST similarity searches. A total of 16,810 and 16,577 unique sequences were assigned to functional classifications and biochemical pathways based on Gene Ontology analysis and the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes assignment, respectively. Nine genes involved in the biosynthesis of ginsenoside skeletons and many candidate genes putatively responsible for modification of the skeletons, including 133 cytochrome P450s and 235 glycosyltransferases, were identified. From these candidates, six transcripts encoding UDP-glycosyltransferases that were most likely to be involved in ginsenoside biosynthesis were selected. These results open a new avenue by which to explore and exploit biosynthetic and biochemical properties that may lead to drug improvement. These 454 ESTs will provide the foundation for further functional genomic research into the traditional herb P. ginseng or its closely related species.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1593-1601
    Number of pages9
    JournalPlant Cell Reports
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011


    • 454 GS FLX
    • Expressed sequence tag (EST)
    • Ginsenoside biosynthesis
    • Panax ginseng
    • Transcriptome


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