Recent progress in ergot alkaloid research†
Ergot alkaloids are a class of indole derivatives produced by the genera of Ascomycota including Claviceps, Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Epichloë. Many natural and semi-synthetic ergot alkaloids exhibit valuable pharmacological activities and have been widely used in the therapy of human CNS disorders. Owing to the development of genome sequencing technology, the gene clusters involved in the biosynthesis of ergot alkaloids have been identified from these fungi. In this review, we briefly introduce the pharmacological activities and possible mechanisms of action of some ergot alkaloids. Then we summarize the recent progress in the functional characterization of the key genes and gene clusters involved in the biosynthetic pathways of ergot alkaloids from different genera. Particularly, we summarize and discuss the constructions of ergot alkaloid biosynthetic pathways in different heterologous hosts and the optimization strategies performed on the recombinant strains, which provide references for producing ergot alkaloids and the derivatives in cell factories by synthetic biology in the future.
- This article is part of the themed collection: 2017 Review articles