Publication Date



Journal of Biological Chemistry


Cholesterol is the precursor of bioactive plant metabolites such as steroidal saponins. An Australian plant, Dioscorea transversa, produces only two steroidal saponins: 1β-hydroxyprotoneogracillin and protoneogracillin. Here, we used D. transversa as a model in which to elucidate the biosynthetic pathway to cholesterol, a precursor to these compounds. Preliminary transcriptomes of D. transversa rhizome and leaves were constructed, annotated, and analyzed. We identified a novel sterol side-chain reductase as a key initiator of cholesterol biosynthesis in this plant. By complementation in yeast, we determine that this sterol side-chain reductase reduces Δ24,28 double bonds required for phytosterol biogenesis as well as Δ24,25 double bonds. The latter function is believed to initiate cholesterogenesis by reducing cycloartenol to cycloartanol. Through heterologous expression, purification, and enzymatic reconstitution, we also demonstrate that the D. transversa sterol demethylase (CYP51) effectively demethylates obtusifoliol, an intermediate of phytosterol biosynthesis and 4-desmethyl-24,25-dihydrolanosterol, a postulated downstream intermediate of cholesterol biosynthesis. In summary, we investigated specific steps of the cholesterol biosynthetic pathway, providing further insight into the downstream production of bioactive steroidal saponin metabolites.


cholesterol biosynthesis, CYP51, phytosterol biosynthesis, saponin, transcriptome

Included in

Neurosurgery Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.