The Formation of Sugar Chains in Triterpenoid Saponins and Glycoalkaloids


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Abstract

Triterpenoid saponins and structurally related steroidal glycoalkaloids are a large and diverse family of plant glycosides. The importance of these compounds for chemical protection of plants against microbial pathogens and/or herbivores is now well-documented. Moreover, these compounds have a variety of commercial applications, e.g. as drugs or raw materials for pharmaceutical industry. Until recently there were only sparse data on the biosynthesis of saponins and glycoalkaloids, especially at the enzyme level. Substantial progress has recently been made, however, in our understanding of biosynthetic routes leading to the formation of the diverse array of aglycone skeletons found in these compounds as well as mechanisms of synthesis of their sugar moieties. This review highlights some of the advances made over past two decades in our understanding of the formation and modification of sugar moieties in triterpenoid saponins and glycoalkaloids.

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