Chemical inhibitors suggest endophytic fungal paclitaxel is derived from both mevalonate and non-mevalonate-like pathways.
Taxol is an anticancer identified in both endophytic fungus and its host plant. Plant Taxol is a diterpenoid with geranylgeranyl diphosphate (GGPP) mediates the biosynthesis of its terpenoid moiety. Previous report has suggested that fungal Taxol may require terpenoid pathway for its biosynthesis. Here in this study, feeding a Taxol-producing endophytic fungus (Paraconiothyrium SSM001) with terpenoid precursors including isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP, isoprene) and GGPP enhanced Taxol production threefold and fivefold, respectively, compared to the control. Thus, we assumed that increasing the terpenoid pool size in particular GGPP by introducing a new copy number of GGPPS particularly from a Taxol-producing plant might increase the production level of fungal Taxol. Agrobacterium-mediated integration of Taxus canadensis geranylgeranyl diphosphate synthase (GGPPS) gene into the Paraconiothyrium SSM001 genome was successful and increased the terpenoid pool size indicated by an increase in carotenoid level and orange to red coloration of some GGPPS-transformed SSM001 colonies. Furthermore, the integration improved the level of Taxol production threefold. Feeding a GGPPS-transformed SSM001 fungus with a GGPP precursor increased the expression level of GGPPS transcript and Taxol production. The successful increase in both terpenoid and Taxol production levels due to GGPPS gene integration into the fungal genome might be a step forward in manipulating Taxol-producing endophytic fungi. Future control of the transformation time and the manipulation of the phenolic pathway could maximize the production level.