, Volume 249, Issue 1, pp 9–20 | Cite as

Isoprenyl diphosphate synthases: the chain length determining step in terpene biosynthesis

  • Raimund NagelEmail author
  • Axel Schmidt
  • Reuben J. Peters
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Terpenes and Isoprenoids


Main conclusion

This review summarizes the recent developments in the study of isoprenyl diphosphate synthases with an emphasis on analytical techniques, product length determination, and the physiological consequences of manipulating expression in planta.

The highly diverse structures of all terpenes are synthesized from the five carbon precursors dimethylallyl diphosphate and a varying number of isopentenyl diphosphate units through 1’-4 alkylation reactions. These elongation reactions are catalyzed by isoprenyl diphosphate synthases (IDS). IDS are classified depending on the configuration of the ensuing double bond as trans- and cis-IDS. In addition, IDS are further stratified by the length of their prenyl diphosphate product. This review discusses analytical techniques for the determination of product length and the factors that control product length, with an emphasis on alternative mechanisms. With recent advances in analytics, multiple IDS of Arabidopsis thaliana have been recently reinvestigated and demonstrated to yield products of different lengths than originally reported, which is summarized here. As IDS dictate prenyl diphosphate length and thereby which class of terpenes is ultimately produced, another focus of this review is the impact that altering IDS expression has on terpenoid natural product accumulation. Finally, recent findings regarding the ability of a few IDS to not catalyze 1’-4 alkylation reactions, but instead produce irregular products, with unusual connectivity, or act as terpene synthases, are also discussed.


Isoprenyl diphosphate synthases Terpenes Isoprenoids Prenyl diphosphates Arabidopsis 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Roy J. Carver Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular BiologyIowa State UniversityAmesUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiochemistryMax Planck Institute for Chemical EcologyJenaGermany

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