The complexity of intercellular localisation of alkaloids revealed by single-cell metabolomics

Kotaro Yamamoto, Katsutoshi Takahashi, Lorenzo Caputi, Hajime Mizuno, Carlos E. Rodriguez-Lopez, Tetsushi Iwasaki, Kimitsune Ishizaki, Hidehiro Fukaki, Miwa Ohnishi, Mami Yamazaki, Tsutomu Masujima, Sarah E. O'Connor, Tetsuro Mimura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Catharanthus roseus is a medicinal plant well known for producing bioactive compounds such as vinblastine and vincristine, which are classified as terpenoid indole alkaloids (TIAs). Although the leaves of this plant are the main source of these antitumour drugs, much remains unknown on how TIAs are biosynthesised from a central precursor, strictosidine, to various TIAs in planta. Here, we have succeeded in showing, for the first time in leaf tissue of C. roseus, cell-specific TIAs localisation and accumulation with 10 μm spatial resolution Imaging mass spectrometry (Imaging MS) and live single-cell mass spectrometry (single-cell MS). These metabolomic studies revealed that most TIA precursors (iridoids) are localised in the epidermal cells, but major TIAs including serpentine and vindoline are localised instead in idioblast cells. Interestingly, the central TIA intermediate strictosidine also accumulates in both epidermal and idioblast cells of C. roseus. Moreover, we also found that vindoline accumulation increases in laticifer cells as the leaf expands. These discoveries highlight the complexity of intercellular localisation in plant specialised metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)848-859
Number of pages12
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Oct 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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