Cloning and Characterization of Terpene Synthase (Tps) Genes from Ginkgo biloba
Ginkgo biloba (maidenhair tree) is one of the oldest living tree species and its leaves are among the most extensively studied herbs. The leaves are used to treat blood disorders and to enhance memory. The medicinal properties of Ginkgo are attributed to two types of chemicals – ginkgolides and bilobalides, which are found in the leaves. A number of terpene synthases are involved in biosynthesis of gingkolides and bilobalides. However, few genes responsible for ginkgolides/bilobalides and the flavonoids biosynthetic pathways from Ginkgo have been cloned and characterized . This is due to lack of genome sequences/ESTs available in GenBank. Recently, Lin et al. 2011, reported a functional analysis of Ginkgo biloba leaves using NGS (Next Generation Sequencing) technology and generated a total of 64,057 ESTs for genes involved in different biosynthetic pathways including ginkgolide/bilobalide biosynthetic pathway. Five and eleven ESTs for diterpenoid and terpenoids, respectively, were identified. In the present investigation, we initiated our attempt to analyze these ESTs. Two out of the sixteen available putative transcripts were identified as genes coding for terpene synthases. Here, we describe the results of molecular cloning and characterization of these terpene synthase genes from G. biloba. Acknowledgements: This study was supported in part by US Food and Drug Administration (Grant No. 5U01FD004246). Special thanks to Dr. Joe Chappell, University of Kentucky. References:  Lin X, Zhang J, et al. (2011) Physiologia Plantarum, 143: 207 – 218.