Prof Anne Osbourn

Director of the Norwich Research Park Industrial Biotechnology Alliance
Metabolic Biology

Anne investigates plant natural product biosynthesis.

Anne's discovery that the genes for many of these pathways are organised in clusters in plant genomes like ‘beads on a string’ has greatly accelerated the ability to find new pathways and chemistries of potential importance for the development of drugs and other useful compounds.

She has also developed a synthetic biology platform for rapid gram-scale production, using triterpenes as an exemplar.

  • Triterpene biosynthesis, enzyme and pathway discovery
  • Genome mining for natural product pathways
  • Production of natural products and analogs for drug and chemical discovery programmes

 

An important advance from their lab has been the discovery that genes for specialised metabolic pathways are organised in ‘operon-like’ clusters in plant genomes, a finding that has opened up new opportunities for pathway discovery through genome mining, metabolic engineering and synthetic biology.

Terpene pathway discovery, elucidation and engineering.  The terpenes are one of the largest and most diverse classes of plant-derived natural products and have a wide range of applications in the agriculture, pharmaceutical, food and manufacturing industries. These compounds have a high degree of structural complexity, making them inaccessible to organic synthesis or classical combinatorial chemistry.

The lab have characterised an extensive set of genes and enzymes for triterpene biosynthesis and are using this toolkit to engineer structurally diverse molecules so that we can investigate the relationship between structure and function.  They aim to create new methods, platforms and technologies for the rapid discovery, synthesis and modification of triterpenes that would not otherwise be accessible.

Operon-like gene clusters and synthetic traits. Plant genomes contain thousands of genes with predicted functions in secondary metabolism, but the metabolic diversity of plants remains largely unexplored. They are exploiting the discovery that genes for the synthesis of different classes of specialised metabolite are organised in ‘operon-like’ clusters in diverse plant species to discover new metabolic pathways and chemistries and to gain insights into plant genome structure, organization, regulation and evolution.

They are also using synthetic biology approaches for cluster engineering and to make functional synthetic clusters (potential ‘syntraits’). 

In addition to the above, Anne developed and co-ordinate the Science, Art and Writing (SAW) Initiative, a cross-curricular science education outreach programme.

Newly-discovered plant enzymes open the door to novel compound production

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Using ‘chemical origami’ to generate customisable, high-value chemicals from plants

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John Innes Centre scientists mine plant genomes for valuable chemicals

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New funding puts Norwich at the heart of green technologies

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Recent Publications

Li Y., Wang R., Xun X., Wang J., Bao L., Thimmappa R., Ding J., Jiang J., Zhang L., Li T., Lv J., Mu C., Hu X., Zhang L., Liu J., Li Y., Yao L., Jiao W., Wang Y., Lian S., Zhao Z., Zhan Y., Huang X., Liao H., Wang J., Sun H., Mi X., Xia Y., Xing Q., Lu W., Osbourn A., Zhou Z., Chang Y., Bao Z., Wang S. (2018)

Sea cucumber genome provides insights into saponin biosynthesis and aestivation regulation.

Cell discovery 4 p29

Publisher’s version: 10.1038/s41421-018-0030-5

Osbourn A. E., Boutanaev A. M. (2018)

Multigenome analysis implicates miniature inverted-repeat transposable elements (MITEs) in metabolic diversification in eudicots

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Publisher’s version: 10.1073/pnas.1721318115

Xue Z., Tan Z., Huang A., Zhou Y., Sun J., Wang X., Thimmappa R. B., Stephenson M. J., Osbourn A., Qi X. (2018)

Identification of key amino acid residues determining product specificity of 2,3-oxidosqualene cyclase in Oryza species.

New Phytologist

Publisher’s version: 10.1111/nph.15080

Goossens A., Osbourn A., Michoux F., Bak S. (2018)

Triterpene Messages from the EU-FP7 Project TriForC.

Trends in Plant Science

Publisher’s version: 10.1016/j.tplants.2018.02.002

Huang A. C., Hong Y. J., Bond A. D., Tantillo D. J., Osbourn A. (2017)

Diverged Plant Terpene Synthases Reroute the Carbocation Cyclization Path towards the Formation of Unprecedented 6/11/5 and 6/6/7/5 Sesterterpene Scaffolds.

Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English)

Publisher’s version: 10.1002/anie.201711444

View All

Anne Osbourn

  • Laetitia Martin Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Hugo Ombredane Undergraduate Project Student
  • Charlotte Owen Postgraduate Student
  • Dr Zhenhua Liu Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Dr Ancheng Huang Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Xiaolong Hao Postgraduate Student
  • Miss Hannah Griffiths Postgraduate Student
  • Michael Stephenson Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Dr Colette Matthewman Project Manager
  • James Reed Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Dr Jenni Rant Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Anastasia Orme Postgraduate Student
  • Rachel Melton Research Assistant
  • Dr Aymeric Leveau Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Dr Ramesha Bheemanahally Thimmappa Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Thomas Louveau Postdoctoral Scientist

Media

For media enquiries, contact the John Innes Centre communications team 01603 450962, jic.communications@jic.ac.uk

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