Lolines are potent insecticidal agents produced by endophytic fungi of cool-season grasses. These alkaloids are composed of a pyrrolizidine ring system and an uncommon ether bridge linking carbons 2 and 7. Previous results indicated that 1-aminopyrrolizidine was a pathway intermediate. We used RNA interference to knock down expression of lolO, resulting in the accumulation of an alkaloid identified as exo-1-acetamidopyrrolizidine based on high-resolution MS and NMR. Genomes of endophytes differing in alkaloid profiles were sequenced, revealing that those with mutated lolO accumulated exo-1-acetamidopyrrolizidine but no lolines. Heterologous expression of wild-type lolO complemented a lolO mutant, resulting in the production of N-acetylnorloline. These results indicated that the non-heme iron oxygenase, LolO, is required for ether bridge formation, probably through oxidation of exo-1-acetamidopyrrolizidine.

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Published in Phytochemistry, v. 98, p. 60-68.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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This research was supported by USDA-CSREES Grants 2009-11131030 and 2012-6701319384, National Science Foundation Grants EF-0523661 and EPS-0814194, and NIH-NIGMS Grant R01GM086888, and by The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore, Oklahoma.