Sunday, August 27, 2006
Lipid Taxonomy 405
At 4:05 this morning, I woke up in quite a stir, repeating one word over and over, and I have no idea why, because it’s a word that I don’t recall ever hearing before. Laying there in the dark, I couldn’t shake it… glucoflavonoids… glucoflavonoids… glucoflavonoids…
I suppose this might be explained away as ‘unconsciously bringing one’s work home’ if I were a biochemist, but one semester of undergraduate biochemistry in 1973 hardly qualifies me for inclusion in any of their professional organizations. So, I did what any rational person would do at that point— I got out of bed and fired up my trusty PC. Once my homepage was booted and all the pop-up ads were deleted, I consulted Google, typing in glucoflavonoids. Wonder upon wonder, I even spelled it correctly.
There were only five entries for the topic, one of which was in Spanish and, therefore, of very little use to a gringo such as myself; along with my many shortcomings in such disciplines as biochemistry you could also quite correctly include bilingual fluency. Be that as it may, I pushed on, determined to find out what the hell the damned things were and why they’d invaded my sleep!
It turns out (after slogging through 59 pages of a technical paper written in 2002 by S.R. Jensen and J. Schripsema, Chemotaxonomy and pharmacology of Gentianaceae) that glucoflavonoids are actually very closely related to several other families of compounds in family Gentianaceae, the iridoids, xanthones, mangiferin, swertiamarin and, of course, the under-appreciated gentiopicriside.
Imagine my disappointment when I read that the iridoid glucoflavonoids of Gentianaceae are usually secoiridoids or, at their very least, the obligatory biosynthetic precursors of the secoiridoids.
However, I must admit, I’m relieved that it's not cancer or VD...