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The STORR gene fusion event is considered essential for the evolution of the promorphinan/morphinan subclass of benzylisoquinoline alkaloids (BIAs) in opium poppy as the resulting bi-modular protein performs the isomerization of (S)- to (R)-reticuline essential for their biosynthesis. Here, we show that of the 12 Papaver species analysed those containing the STORR gene fusion also contain promorphinans/morphinans with one important exception. P. californicum encodes a functionally conserved STORR but does not produce promorphinans/morphinans. We also show that the gene fusion event occurred only once, between 16.8-24.1 million years ago before the separation of P. californicum from other Clade 2 Papaver species. The most abundant BIA in P. californicum is (R)-glaucine, a member of the aporphine subclass of BIAs, raising the possibility that STORR, once evolved, contributes to the biosynthesis of more than just the promorphinan/morphinan subclass of BIAs in the Papaveraceae. © 2022. The Author(s).


Theresa Catania, Yi Li, Thilo Winzer, David Harvey, Fergus Meade, Anna Caridi, Andrew Leech, Tony R Larson, Zemin Ning, Jiyang Chang, Yves Van de Peer, Ian A Graham. A functionally conserved STORR gene fusion in Papaver species that diverged 16.8 million years ago. Nature communications. 2022 Jun 07;13(1):3150

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PMID: 35672295

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