Irini Pateraki – University of Copenhagen

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Center for Synthetic Biology > Meet the Researchers > Irini Pateraki

Irini Pateraki


  • Section for Plant Biochemistry

  • Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences

  • Faculty for Science

Irini Pateraki tries to elucidate the natural biosynthetic pathway of the medicinal drug forskolin in the plant Coleus forskohlii. She recently was author on a featured publication in the Journal Plant Physiology showing the first results of her project along with in planta localization studies for forskolin.

The labdane diterpene forskolin has long been recognized for its pharmaceutical properties. Most important, forskolin increases intracellular cAMP levels which then assist in the relaxation of human blood and respiratory vessels. In nature, forskolin is produced in the roots of the plant Coleus forskohlii, but until now the precise biosynthetic pathway and production site of forskolin was unknown.
During our task to elucidate the natural biosynthetic pathway of forskolin we were already able to show that the first two steps of the biosynthesis of the drug forskolin are active in Coleus forskohlii root cork cells. Here, forskolin and other bioactive terpenoids are stored in lipid bodies (LBs). This indicates a unique and novel function for these lipophilic intracellular compartments. 


Chemical analysis of these root oil bodies revealed that they have the capacity to store an array of terpenoids, including forskolin and its biosynthetic precursor, manoyl oxide. We identified and characterized two diterpene synthases that are involved in the synthesis of manoyl oxide, the first steps of forskolin biosynthesis. These findings will assist in future discoveries of the remaining biosynthetic components, thus potentially leading to sustainable forskolin production through biotechnological applications.


Since 2012 Postdoc, Section for Plant Biochemistry, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

Marie Curie Intra-European Fellow from March 2013 to February 2015.

2007-2012 Postdoc, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Barcelona, Spain
2000-2007 PhD fellow, Department of Pharmacognosy – Pharmacology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
1992-1994 Master's degree, Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology, Mediterranean
Agronomic Institute of Chania, Greece
1985-1991 BSc, Agricultural University of Athens, Greece

Collaborations within the Center for Synthetic Biology

Agnieszka Zygadlo Nielsen
Birger Lindberg Møller
Björn Hamberger
Johan Andersen-Ranberg

Selected Scientific Publications

Pateraki, I.*, Andersen-Ranberg, J.*, Hamberger, B., Heskes. A.M., Martens, A.M., Zerbe, P., Bach, S.B., Møller, B.L., Bohlmann, J., Hamberger, B. Manoyl oxide (13R), the biosynthetic precursor of forskolin, is synthesized in specialized root cork cells in Coleus forskohlii. Plant Physiology 164(3): 1222-1236, doi: 10.1104/pp.113.228429 (2014). *authors contributed equally to this publication

Renato, M., Pateraki, I., Boronat, A. and Azcon-Bieto. J. Tomato fruit chromoplasts behave as respiratory bioenergetic organelles during ripening. Plant Physiology, 166(2): 920-933, doi: 10.1104/pp.114.243931 (2014).

Liu, Q., Manzano, D., Tanić, N., Pesic, M., Bankovic, J., Pateraki, I., Ricard, L., Ferrer, A., de Vos, R., van de Krol, S., Bouwmeester, H.  Elucidation and in planta reconstitution of the parthenolide biosynthetic pathway. Metabolic Engineering, 23: 145-153, doi: 10.1016/j.ymben.2014.03.005 (2014).

Brückner, K., Bozic, D., Papaefthimiou, D., Pateraki, I., Scheler, U., Ferrer, A., de Vos, R.C., Kanellis, A.K. and Tissier, A. Characterization of two genes for the biosynthesis of abietane-type diterpenes in rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) glandular trichomes. Phytochemistry, 101: 52–64, doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2014.01.021 (2014).

Pateraki, I., Renato, M., Azcon-Bieto, J. and Boronat, A.  An ATP synthase harboring an atypical γ-subunit is involved in ATP synthesis in tomato fruit chromoplasts. Plant Journal, 74: 74–85, doi: 10.1111/tpj.12109 (2013).

Pateraki, I. and Kanellis, A.K.  Stress and developmental responses of terpenoid biosynthetic genes in Cistus creticus ssp. creticus. Plant Cell reports, 29: 629–641, doi: 10.1007/s00299-010-0849-1(2010).

Pateraki, I. and Kanellis, A.K.  Isolation and functional analysis of two Cistus creticus ssp. creticus cDNAs encoding geranylgeranyl diphosphate synthase (GGDPS). Phytochemistry, 69: 1641–1652, doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2008.02.005 (2008).