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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Characterization of capsaicin synthase and identification of its gene (csy1) for pungency factor capsaicin in pepper (Capsicum sp.).

Capsaicin is a unique alkaloid of the plant kingdom restricted to the genus Capsicum. Capsaicin is the pungency factor, a bioactive molecule of food and of medicinal importance. Capsaicin is useful as a counterirritant, antiarthritic, analgesic, antioxidant, and anticancer agent. Capsaicin biosynthesis involves condensation of vanillylamine and 8-methyl nonenoic acid, brought about by capsaicin synthase ( CS). We found that CS activity correlated with genotype-specific capsaicin levels. We purified and characterized CS ( approximately 35 kDa). Immunolocalization studies confirmed that CS is specifically localized to the placental tissues of Capsicum fruits. Western blot analysis revealed concomitant enhancement of CS levels and capsaicin accumulation during fruit development. We determined the N-terminal amino acid sequence of purified CS, cloned the CS gene (csy1) and sequenced full-length cDNA (981 bp). The deduced amino acid sequence of CS from full-length cDNA was 38 kDa. Functionality of csy1 through heterologous expression in recombinant Escherichia coli was also demonstrated. Here we report the gene responsible for capsaicin biosynthesis, which is unique to Capsicum spp. With this information on the CS gene, speculation on the gene for pungency is unequivocally resolved. Our findings have implications in the regulation of capsaicin levels in Capsicum genotypes.[1]


  1. Characterization of capsaicin synthase and identification of its gene (csy1) for pungency factor capsaicin in pepper (Capsicum sp.). Prasad, B.C., Kumar, V., Gururaj, H.B., Parimalan, R., Giridhar, P., Ravishankar, G.A. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (2006) [Pubmed]
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