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Project: Genetic engineering in the biosynthesis of artemisinin in Artemisia annua plants, through sense and antisense technology.

01-DEC-96 – 31-DEC-99

The research is focused on the production of transgenic plants in order to obtain a higher production of artemisinin, a new interesting anti-malaria compound. To attain this goal a strategy is developed to influence and modify the biosynthetic pathway through genetic engineering. Two strategies can be followed : one consists of introducing a gene, coding for a regulatory enzyme in this pathway, the other consists of blocking a gene at a splitting of the pathway that leads to the production of structurally different compounds. Two enzymes play an important role, namely sesquiterpenecyclase for the cyclization reaction of farnesylpyrophosphate to the cadinane skeleton and squalene synthetase giving rise to sterols. Sesquiterpenecyclase should be overexpressed, squalene synthetase should be blocked.