The biosynthetic route of curcumin has proven to be very difficult for researchers to determine. In 1973 Roughly and Whiting proposed two mechanisms for curcumin biosynthesis.
The first mechanism involved a chain extension reaction by cinnamic acid and 5 malonyl-CoA molecules that eventually arylized into a curcuminoid.
The second mechanism involved two cinnamate units being coupled together by malonyl-CoA. 16 Both mechanisms utilize cinnamic acid as their starting point, which is derived from the amino acid phenylalanine.
This is noteworthy because plant biosyntheses employing cinnamic acid as a starting point are rare compared to the more common use of p-coumaric acid.
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