Morphine Biosynthesis

  • Author: Veronika Belusa
  • Published: 05 July 2015
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
  • Source / Publisher: Science/AAAS
thumbnail image: Morphine Biosynthesis

Ian Graham, University of York, UK, and colleagues from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Australia, have discovered the gene in poppy plants that is necessary for the synthesis of morphinans. Morphinans are alkaloids which include the painkiller drugs morphine and codeine. Morphinan biosynthesis requires the isomerization of (S)- to (R)-reticuline.

The gene STORR (named for "(S)- to (R)-reticuline") is only found in poppy species that produce morphinans. STORR evolved with two other genes that result in morphine production. The resulting gene fusion plays a key role in production of morphine. Poppy plant varieties that are unable to produce morphine or codeine carry mutations in the STORR gene that inhibit the morphine production pathway.

The discovery may aid in breeding poppy plants specifically tailored to produce pharmaceutically important morphinans. It could also allow genetically engineering microbes such as yeast to produce morphine.


Article Views: 3916

Sign in Area

Please sign in below

Additional Sign In options

Please note that to comment on an article you must be registered and logged in.
Registration is for free, you may already be registered to receive, e.g., the newsletter. When you register on this website, please ensure you view our terms and conditions. All comments are subject to moderation.

Article Comments - To add a comment please sign in

If you would like to reuse any content, in print or online, from, please contact us first for permission and consult our permisson guidance prior to making your request

Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on YouTube Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Instagram RSS Sign up for newsletters

Magazine of Chemistry Europe (16 European Chemical Societies) published by Wiley-VCH