The terpenoids (/ˈtɜːrpᵻnɔɪd/ tur-pə-noyd), sometimes called isoprenoids, are a large and diverse class of naturally occurring organic chemicals similar to terpenes, derived from five-carbon isoprene units assembled and modified in thousands of ways. Most are multicyclic structures that differ from one another not only in functional groups but also in their basic carbon skeletons. These lipids can be found in all classes of living things, and are the largest group of natural products. About 60% of known natural products are terpenoids.
Plant terpenoids are used extensively for their aromatic qualities and play a role in traditional herbal remedies. Terpenoids contribute to the scent of eucalyptus, the flavors of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger, the yellow color in sunflowers, and the red color in tomatoes. Well-known terpenoids include citral, menthol, camphor, salvinorin A in the plant Salvia divinorum, the cannabinoids found in cannabis, ginkgolide and bilobalide found in Ginkgo biloba, and the curcuminoids found in turmeric and mustard seed.
The steroids and sterols in animals are biologically produced from terpenoid precursors. Sometimes terpenoids are added to proteins, e.g., to enhance their attachment to the cell membrane; this is known as isoprenylation.
Structure and classification Terpenes are hydrocarbons resulting from the combination of several isoprene units. The isoprene unit has the formula CH2=C(CH3)CH=CH2. Terpenoids can be thought of as modified terpenes, wherein methyl groups have been moved or removed, or oxygen atoms added. (Some authors use the term "terpene" more broadly, to include the terpenoids.) Just like terpenes, the terpenoids can be classified according to the number of isoprene units used:
Hemiterpenoids, 1 isoprene unit (5 carbons) Monoterpenoids, 2 isoprene units (10C) Sesquiterpenoids, 3 isoprene units (15C) Diterpenoids, 4 isoprene units (20C) (e.g. ginkgolides) Sesterterpenoids, 5 isoprene units (25C) Triterpenoids, 6 isoprene units (30C) (e.g. sterols) Tetraterpenoids, 8 isoprene units (40C) (e.g. carotenoids) Polyterpenoid with a larger number of isoprene units Terpenoids can also be classified according to the number of cyclic structures they contain. The Salkowski test can be used to identify the presence of terpenoids.
Meroterpenes are any compound, including many natural products, having a partial terpenoid structure.
There are two metabolic pathways that create terpenoids:
Mevalonic acid pathway Many organisms manufacture terpenoids through the HMG-CoA reductase pathway, which also produces cholesterol. The reactions take place in the cytosol. The pathway was discovered in the 1950s.
MEP/DOXP pathway The 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate/1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate pathway (MEP/DOXP pathway), also known as [non-mevalonate pathway] or mevalonic acid-independent pathway, takes place in the plastids of plants and apicomplexan protozoa, as well as in many bacteria. It was discovered in the late 1980s.
Pyruvate and glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate are converted by DOXP synthase (Dxs) to 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate, and by DOXP reductase (Dxr, IspC) to 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP). The subsequent three reaction steps catalyzed by 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol synthase (YgbP, IspD), 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol kinase (YchB, IspE), and 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 2,4-cyclodiphosphate synthase (YgbB, IspF) mediate the formation of 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 2,4-cyclopyrophosphate (MEcPP). Finally, MEcPP is converted to (E)-4-hydroxy-3-methyl-but-2-enyl pyrophosphate (HMB-PP) by HMB-PP synthase (GcpE, IspG), and HMB-PP is converted to isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl pyrophosphate (DMAPP) by HMB-PP reductase (LytB, IspH).
IPP and DMAPP are the end-products in either pathway, and are the precursors of isoprene, monoterpenoids (10-carbon), diterpenoids (20-carbon), carotenoids (40-carbon), chlorophylls, and plastoquinone-9 (45-carbon). Synthesis of all higher terpenoids proceeds via formation of geranyl pyrophosphate (GPP), farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP), and geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP).
Although both pathways, MVA and MEP, are mutually exclusive in most organisms, interactions between them have been reported in plants and few bacteria species.
Bacteria MVA or MEP Archaea MVA Green Algae MEP Plants MVA and MEP Animals MVA Fungi MVA
References: Firn, Richard (2010). Nature's Chemicals. Oxford: Biology. Michael Specter (September 28, 2009). "A Life of Its Own". The New Yorker. Ayoola, GA (2008). "Phytochemical Screening and Antioxidant Activities of Some Selected Medicinal Plants Used for Malaria Therapy in Southwestern Nigeria". Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research. 7 (3): 1019–1024. doi:10.4314/tjpr.v7i3.14686.