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Lanosterol synthase-like is involved with differential accumulation of steroidal glycoalkaloids in potato


Main conclusion

Phytosterol homeostasis may be maintained in leaves through diversion of intermediates into glycoalkaloid biosynthesis, whereas in tuber flesh, excess intermediates are catalyzed by tuber-specific StLAS - like , resulting in low tuber glycoalkaloids.

Lanosterol synthase (LAS) and cycloartenol synthase (CAS) are phylogenetically related enzymes. Cycloartenol is the accepted precursor leading to cholesterol and phytosterols, and in potato, to steroidal glycoalkaloid (SGA) biosynthesis. LAS was also shown to synthesize some plant sterols, albeit at trace amounts, questioning its role in sterol homeostasis. Presently, a potato LAS-related gene (StLAS-like) was identified and its activity verified in a yeast complementation assay. A transgenic approach with targeted gene expression and metabolic profiling of sterols and SGAs was used. Analyses of StLAS-like transcript levels and StLAS-like-promoter::GUS reporter assays indicated specific expression in tuber flesh tissue. Overexpression of Arabidopsis AtLAS in leaves where the endogenic StLAS-like is not expressed, resulted with increased SGA level and reduced phytosterol level, while in the tuber flesh SGA level was reduced. StLAS-like expression only in tuber flesh may explain the differential accumulation of SGAs in commercial cultivars—low in tubers, high in leaves. In leaves, to maintain phytosterol homeostasis, an excess of intermediates may be diverted into SGA biosynthesis, whereas in tuber flesh these intermediates are catalyzed by tuber-specific StLAS-like instead, resulting in low levels of SGA.

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Cycloartenol synthase


Glycoalkaloid metabolism


3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme-A reductase


Lanosterol synthase


Steroidal glycoalkaloid(s)


Solanidine glycosyltransferases


C-24-methyltransferase type


Squalene synthase


Sterol side chain reductase


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Yeast strain GIL77 and the ERG7/YHR072W plasmid were kindly obtained from Dr. Efraim Lewinsohn, Newe Ya’ar Research Center, Israel. We would like to thank Dr. Amir Sherman, Volcani Center, Israel, for his help with establishing the yeast complementation assay. The research was partially supported by Research Grant no. IS-4134-08 from BARD, the United States-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund.

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Correspondence to Idit Ginzberg.

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Kumar, A., Fogelman, E., Weissberg, M. et al. Lanosterol synthase-like is involved with differential accumulation of steroidal glycoalkaloids in potato. Planta 246, 1189–1202 (2017).

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  • Chaconine
  • Phytosterols
  • Solanine
  • Solanum tuberosum