Two rings in them all: The labdane-related diterpenoids

Peters, Reuben
Peters, Reuben
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Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology

In his original exposition of the biogenetic isoprenoid rule, L. Ruzicka noted the structural identity between the fused A/B rings of triterpenoids/sterols and certain multicyclic diterpenoids as part of the impetus leading to that profound insight. His prescient hypothesis that this chemical structure relationship reflects similarities in the initial cyclization of these diterpenoids with that occurring in triterpenoid biosynthesis has since been verified. However, this chemical structure relationship does not continue to hold true for the additional rings found in many of these di- and tri- terpenoid natural products. This is now appreciated to arise from differences in their subsequent biogenesis, specifically further cyclization and/or rearrangement of these diterpenoids after formation of an initial bicyclic intermediate in a separately catalyzed reaction. The trivial name for the hydrocarbon skeleton of the most commonly found version of the corresponding unique intermediate forms the basis for a unifying “labdane-related” designation. This defines a large super-family of diterpenoids that contains nearly 7,000 already known natural products. Many of these are found in plants, where the requisite biosynthetic machinery for gibberellin phytohormones, particularly the relevant diterpene cyclases, provides a biosynthetic reservoir that appears to have been repeatedly drawn upon to evolve new labdane-related diterpenoids. The potent biological activity of the “ancestral” gibberellins, which has led to the independent evolution of distinct gibberellin biosynthetic pathways in plants, fungi, and bacteria, is further discussed as an archetypical example of the selective pressure driving the observed diversification of the large super-family of labdane-related diterpenoid natural products.


This is a manuscript of an article published as Peters, Reuben J. "Two rings in them all: the labdane-related diterpenoids." Natural product reports 27, no. 11 (2010): 1521-1530. doi: 10.1039/C0NP00019A . Posted with permission.