De novo production of the plant-derived alkaloid strictosidine in yeast

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The monoterpene indole alkaloids are a large group of plant-derived specialized metabolites, many of which have valuable pharmaceutical or biological activity. Reconstitution of biosynthetic pathways in a heterologous host is a promising strategy for rapid and inexpensive production of complex molecules that are found in plants. Strictosidine is the last common biosynthetic intermediate for all monoterpene indole alkaloids. Here we demonstrate how strictosidine can be produced de novo in a Saccharomyces cerevisiae host from 14 known monoterpene indole alkaloid pathway genes, along with an additional 7 genes and 3 gene deletions that enhance secondary metabolism. This system provides an important resource for developing the production of more complex plant-derived alkaloids, engineering of non-natural derivatives, identification of bottlenecks in monoterpene indole alkaloid biosynthesis and discovery of new pathway genes in a convenient yeast host.