Panax notoginseng is one of the most widely used traditional herbs for the treatment of various diseases, in which saponins were the main active components. At present, the research of P. notoginseng mainly focused on the discovery of new compounds and pharmacology. However, there were few studies on the molecular mechanism of the synthesis of secondary metabolites of P. notoginseng. In our study, four coding sequences (CDS) encoding the key enzymes involved in saponin biosynthesis were cloned, namely farnesyl diphosphate synthase (FPS), squalene synthase (SS), squalene epoxidase (SE), and dammarenediol-II synthase (DS), which contained open reading frame (ORF) of 1029 bp, 1248 bp, 1614 bp, and 2310 bp, and coded 342, 415, 537, and 769 amino acids, respectively. At the same time, their domains, secondary structures, three-dimensional structures, and phylogenetics trees were analyzed by kinds of bioinformatics tools. Their phylogenetics relationships were also analyzed. In addition, GFP (Green fluorescent protein) fusion genes were constructed by the plasmid transformation system to determine the subcellular localization. The results of subcellular localization showed that FPS, SE, and DS were mainly located in cytomembrane and its surrounding, while SS was located both in cytoplasm and cytomembrane. Our findings provided data demonstrating the expression patterns of genes involved in saponin biosynthesis and would facilitate efforts to further elucidate the biosynthesis of the bioactive components in P. notoginseng.
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