Artemisinin forms the basis for the artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs), recommended by the WHO as the method of choice to treat resistant malaria. Unfortunately, total and semi synthesis of artemisinin is not economically feasible. Artemisia annua, the only plant known to produce artemisinin, produces only small amounts of this life saving medicine. The final objective of this project is to acquire additional insights in the
biosynthesis pathway of artemisinin and to elucidate the involved molecular, physiological and structural elements.
It is well established that the biosynthesis of artemisinin occurs in the glandular trichomes of A. annua. A recent publication shows that artemisinin biosynthesis and expression of artemisinin biosynthesis genes is induced by the phytohormone jasmonate. Another recent publication shows that most artemisinin biosynthesis genes are only expressed in the apical cells of the trichomes.
Building on these findings, the purpose of this study is to find candidate genes and enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of artemisinin with a differential transcriptome analysis between trichomes treated with and without jasmonate and between apical and subapical trichome cells. Candidate genes will be expressed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae to study and validate the enzymatic activity of the recombinant protein.