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The Process

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

People think there is just the lighter and the flower to get high, but not all know the detailed process. Many pathways start from Geranyl Pyrophosphate (GPP) and can go to Divarinic Acid or Olivetolic Acid. We will focus on the path from GPP to Olivetolic Acid and CBG-A.


The journey begins with geranyl pyrophosphate (GPP), a common precursor in many biosynthetic pathways. GPP is a building block for various natural products, including terpenes and cannabinoids. GPP is synthesized in the plastids of cannabis plant cells through the condensation of isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl pyrophosphate (DMAPP). This reaction is catalyzed by the enzyme geranyl pyrophosphate synthase (GPPS).


The next step in cannabinoid biosynthesis involves the conversion of GPP to olivetolic acid (OLA). OLA is an aromatic polyketide compound that is central in synthesizing various cannabinoids. The transformation of GPP to OLA occurs in the cytoplasmic compartment of cannabis plant cells and is catalyzed by a unique enzyme called olivetolic acid cyclase (OAC). Olivetolic acid is the core structure for the subsequent biosynthesis of various cannabinoids.


Finally, olivetolic acid undergoes an enzymatic reaction to form cannabigerol acid (CBGA), the precursor to several major cannabinoids, such as THC, CBD, and CBC. This leads to CBGA forming, a pivotal branching point in cannabinoid biosynthesis. From CBGA, a cascade of enzymatic reactions occurs, directing the pathway toward specific cannabinoids based on the type and activity of downstream enzymes.


Understanding the conversion process from geranyl pyrophosphate to olivetolic acid to CBGA provides valuable insights into the biosynthesis of cannabinoids. These complex chemical transformations enable the plant to produce many compounds with diverse therapeutic potential. As more researchers continue to uncover the secrets of cannabinoid biosynthesis, this knowledge can be harnessed to optimize cannabinoid production and explore new therapeutic applications in the emerging field of cannabis science.


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