Biogenesis

The biogenesis of caffeine is probably similar in all plants, but with differences in the rates of various steps. It has its origin in the cell purine pool. Precursors include 7-methylxanthosine, 7-methylxanthine, and theobromine. Synthesis of caffeine from adenine occurs readily in young tea leaf. 7-Methylguanilic acid and 7-methylguanasine are also on the biosynthetic path. A 7-methyl-AT-nucleoside hydrolase mediates the removal of ribose from 7-methylxan-thosine. S-adenosylmethionine is the methyl donor for the methylation of the xanthines in reactions catalyzed by N-methyltransferase (12,13). A possible reaction path is shown in Figure 3. Caffeine biosyntheses in the coffee plant (12-14) and in the tea plant (14-16) have been studied in detail.

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