Background Taxol(R)(paclitaxel) promotes microtubule assembly and stabilization and therefore is a potent chemotherapeutic agent against wide range of cancers. Methyl jasmonate (MJ) elicited Taxus cell cultures provide a sustainable option to meet the growing market demand for paclitaxel. Despite its increasing pharmaceutical importance, the molecular genetics of paclitaxel biosynthesis is not fully elucidated. This study focuses on identification of MJ responsive transcripts in cultured Taxus cells using PCR-based suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) to identify genes involved in global pathway control. Results Six separate SSH cDNA libraries of paclitaxel-accumulating Taxus cuspidata P991 cell lines were constructed at three different post-elicitation time points (6h, 18h and 5 day) to identify genes that are either induced or suppressed in response to MJ. Sequencing of 576 differentially screened clones from the SSH libraries resulted in 331 unigenes. Functional annotation and Gene Ontology (GO) analysis of up-regulated EST libraries showed enrichment of several known paclitaxel biosynthetic genes and novel transcripts that may be involved in MJ-signaling, taxane transport, or taxane degradation. Macroarray analysis of these identified genes unravelled global regulatory expression of these transcripts. Semi-quantitative RT-PCR analysis of a set of 12 candidate genes further confirmed the MJ-induced gene expression in a high paclitaxel accumulating Taxus cuspidata P93AF cell line. Conclusions This study elucidates the global temporal expression kinetics of MJ responsive genes in Taxus suspension cell culture. Functional characterization of the novel genes identified in this study will further enhance the understanding of paclitaxel biosynthesis, taxane transport and degradation.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/susan_roberts/1/