Investigation of citral for anti-cancer uses

Annotation of functional domains

Traditional herbal remedies offer great potential as alternative therapeutics for human diseases. However, most species that have shown promising results are poorly characterised in terms of active ingredients or mechanism of action.

An interesting recent discovery was that of a key component in lemongrass called citral, which prompts in vitro cancer cells to commit suicide via apoptosis. The mechanism by which apoptosis is induced by citral has not been fully characterised and there is little sequence information pertaining to citral production in lemongrass.

It is known that cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase is involved in the production of citral. We identified a protein for cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase from Ocimum basilicum (sweet basil) and used it to determine the locations of potential active regions/domains. We subsequently searched the Swissprot protein database to identify other potential plant candidates that contain similar functional regions/domains. This analysis could help increase the understanding of citral and how it may be used in the treatment of cancer.

An example of the usage of an online application in investigating cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase is shown below.

To annotate and search for similar proteins in other plants, please follow these steps:

Step 1 of 4

Click here, then click on .
Step 2 of 4

Select the entire region and left click within the selected region window.
Step 3 of 4

As can be seen from the Swissprot keywords, the SIGNIFICANCE peaks correspond to cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase. Again select the entire region of the graph as shown.

Right click within the selection and choose 'Synasearch sequence'.

Step 4 of 4

The region highlighted in blue is a potential genic region, and shows that cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase is quite conserved among selected plant species e.g. Medicago, Eucalyptus and Nicotiana (tobacco).

The sequences from these plants can then be further investigated to determine if they share the same capability of inducing cancer cell apoptosis.







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