Cloning and analyzing of chalcone isomerase gene (AaCHI) from Artemisia annua

  • Jiawei Ma
  • Xueqing Fu
  • Tingting Zhang
  • Hongmei Qian
  • Jingya ZhaoEmail author
Original Article


Artemisinin, isolated from Chinese medical herbal plant Artemisia annua L., was reported to be the main compound of anti-malaria drugs. However, the artemisinin content was very low in A. annua. Great efforts have been made to increase the artemisinin in A. annua. Chalcone isomerase (CHI) was a rate-limiting enzyme in flavonoids metabolic pathways. Terpenoids and flavonoids are from different biosynthetic pathways, but there is a synergistic action between them on a variety of biological processes in plants. Here, the full-length cDNA of CHI was isolated from A. annua. The AaCHI gene, contained a 690 bp open reading frame, which encoded a protein with 229-amino acids. An analysis of AaCHI transcript levels in multifarious tissues of A. annua showed that flower and bud had the highest transcription levels. Unexpectedly, the artemisinin biosynthetic genes and artemisinin content showed an increase in the AaCHI overexpression transgenic A. annua plants. The results indicated that overexpression of AaCHI gene was an effective method to improve the artemisinin content in A. annua. Taken together, our findings showed that AaCHI is involved in artemisinin production in A. annua and revealed a link between flavonoids and terpenoid production.


Artemisinin content Flavonoids metabolic pathways Anti-malaria drugs 



This work was funded by the China National Transgenic Plant Research and Commercialization Project (Grant No. 2016ZX08002-001).

Authors’ contributions

JM and JZ conceived and designed the project. JM, XF, TZ and HQ performed the experiments. JM, FX and TZ analyzed the data. JM and FX wrote the manuscript. JZ revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human or animal rights

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by the any of the authors.

Supplementary material

11240_2018_1549_MOESM1_ESM.bmp (626 kb)
Fig. S1 PCR analysis of transgenic A. annua plants. “M” Marker, “+” Plasmid, “-” Wild type, “1-34” Transgenic A. annua. (BMP 625 KB)
11240_2018_1549_MOESM2_ESM.tif (79 kb)
Fig. S2 Southern blot of transgenic A. annua plants. Molecular size markers are given at left in kilobases. (TIF 78 KB)
11240_2018_1549_MOESM3_ESM.bmp (195 kb)
Fig. S3 The content of flavonoids in WT and transgenic A. annua plants. Error bars indicate SD (n = 3). Statistical significance was determined using Student’s t-test (*P < 0.05, **P < 0.01). (BMP 194 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jiawei Ma
    • 1
  • Xueqing Fu
    • 1
  • Tingting Zhang
    • 1
  • Hongmei Qian
    • 1
  • Jingya Zhao
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Plant Biotechnology Research Center, Fudan-SJTU-Nottingham Plant Biotechnology R&D Center, School of Agriculture and BiologyShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China

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