Biological Sciences
Arts & Sciences
Start Year at LSUS
Terminal Degree/Yr
Office Location
Science Building, Room 212


Research Interests

Research Interests:
My research interests are in the biosynthesis, function, and application of plant-derived natural products for human health and the cellular machineries and dynamics of phytochemicals for further integration into human disease treatment and prevention, such as in cancer therapy.
1.Genomics and metabolomics of natural product biosynthesis for human health.
Medicinal plants produce a wide variety of chemicals with pharmaceutical values.One class of plant specialized metabolites, alkaloids have been used aschemotherapeutic agents. Alkaloids, such as vinblastine harvested from Catharanthus roseus and camptothecin from Camptotheca acuminata have been used in the clinic, however, their productions are still limited by expensive and tedious isolation processes from plants. The goal of this project to elucidate anticancer alkaloid biosynthetic pathways and functionally characterize enzymes involved in the production of these high-value compounds. Large-scale sequencing of medicinal plants that produce alkaloids have accelerated the identification process of putative biosynthetic genes. In this project, we investigate the aspects of genomics and metabolomics of natural product biosynthesis and metabolic engineering to increase the production of alkaloids and other phytochemicals with important biological activities for human health.
2. Metabolite and enzyme engineering of natural product biosynthetic pathways in microbial systems.
Recombinant expression of plant biosynthetic genes in microbial systems, such as bacteria Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae (yeast) has been known as an efficient method to investigate the function of novel biosynthetic genes. In our laboratory, we utilize reverse genetics approaches, including virus-induced gene silencing and RNA interference to test the function of putative genes involved in the biosynthesis of alkaloids and other phytochemicals. Further genetic manipulations of plants and microbial systems in our laboratory also include overexpression and mutagenesis that may result in accumulation of novel compounds with potential biological activities. We aim to generate chemical diversity of lead compounds, especially those with anticancer properties and accelerate drug discovery.
3. Functional characterization of microbiomes in medicinal plant systems for applications and impacts on human health.
Alkaloids are well-known targets in anticancer drug development. The ability of medicinal plants to produce cytotoxic alkaloids involves biotic factors, such as their relationships with microbes and utilization of natural product secretion systems. In this project, microbial communities associated with the production of anticancer alkaloids are identified using Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) machine, and we also perform the metabolite analysis using Ultra-Performance Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (UPLC-MS) located at the LSUS Cyber Collaboratory. The integration of metagenomics and metabolomics accelerates the efforts to determine specific microbial colonization that modulate the anticancer alkaloid metabolism in medicinal plants.

Selected Publications

Nasirian, V., Shamsipur, M., Molaabasi F., Mansouri, K., Sarparast, M., Salim, V., Barati, A., Kashanian, S. (2020). miRNA-21 rapid diagnosis by one-pot synthesis of highly luminescent red emissive silver nanoclusters/DNA. Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 308: 127673.
Salim, V., Jones, A.D., DellaPenna, D. (2018). Camptotheca acuminata 10-hydroxycamptothecin O-methyltransferase: An alkaloid biosynthetic enzyme coopted from flavonoid metabolism. Plant Journal 95:112-125.
Qu, Y., Easson, M., Simionescu, R., Hajicek, J., Thamm, A.M.K., Salim, V., De Luca, V. (2018). Solution of the multistep pathway for assembly of corynanthean, strychnos, iboga and aspidosperma monoterpenoid indole alkaloids from 19E-geissoschizine. PNAS 115: 3180-3185.
Sadre, R., Magallanes-Lundback, M., Pradhan, S., Salim, V., Mesberg, A., Jones, A.D., DellaPenna, D. (2016). Metabolite diversity in alkaloid biosynthesis: A multi-lane (diastereomer) highway for camptothecin synthesis in Camptotheca acuminata. Plant Cell 28:1926-1944.
De Luca, V., Salim, V., Thamm, A., Masada-Atsumi, S., Yu, F. (2014). Making iridoids/secoiridoids and monoterpenoid indole alkaloids: Progress on pathway elucidation. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 19:35-42.
Salim, V., Wiens, B., Masada-Atsumi, S., Yu, F., De Luca, V. (2014). Iridodial oxidase catalyzes a key 3 step oxidation to form 7-deoxyloganetic acid in the Catharanthus roseus iridoid biosynthesis. Phytochemistry 101:23-31.
Besseau, S., Kellner, F., Lanoue, A., Thamm, A.M.K., Salim, V., Schneider, B., Geu-Flores, F., Höfer, R., Guirimand, G., Guihur, A., Oudin, A., Glevarec, G., Foureau, E., Papon, N., Clastre, M., Giglioli-Guivarc'h, N., St-Pierre, B., Werck-Reichhart, D., Burlat, V., De Luca, V., O'Connor, S.E., Courdavault, V. (2013). A pair of tabersonine 16-hydroxylases initiates the synthesis of vindoline in an organ-dependent manner in Catharanthus roseus. Plant Physiology 163: 1792-1803.
Salim, V., Yu, F., Altarejos, J., De Luca, V. (2013). Virus-induced gene silencing identifies Catharanthus roseus 7-deoxyloganic acid-7-hydroxylase, a step in iridoid and monoterpene indole alkaloid biosynthesis. Plant Journal 76: 754-765.
Asada, K.*, Salim, V.*, Masada-Atsumi, S.*, Edmunds, E., Nagatoshi, M., Terasaka, K., Mizukami, H., De Luca, V. (2013). A 7-deoxyloganetic acid glucosyltransferase contributes a key step in secologanin biosynthesis in Madagascar periwinkle. Plant Cell 25: 4123-4134. (* co-1st authors).
Salim, V., De Luca, V. (2013). Towards complete elucidation of monoterpene indole alkaloid biosynthesis pathway: Catharanthus roseus as a pioneer system. Advances in Botanical Research 68: 1-37.
De Luca, V., Salim, V., Levac, D., Atsumi, S. M., Yu, F. (2012). Discovery and functional analysis of monoterpenoid indole alkaloid pathways in plants. Methods in Enzymology 515: 207-229.
De Luca, V., Salim, V., Atsumi, S.M., Yu, F. (2012). Mining the biodiversity of plants: A revolution in the making. Science 336: 1658-1661.
Roepke, J.*, Salim, V.*, Wu, M., Thamm, A.M.K., Murata, J., Ploss, K., Boland, W., De Luca, V. (2010) Vinca drug components accumulate exclusively in leaf exudates of Madagascar periwinkle. PNAS 107: 15287-15292. (* co-1st authors).

Teaching Assignments

Current Courses Taught:
BIOS 420 Cell Biology Fall
BIOS 620 Cell Biology (Graduate Level) Fall
BIOS 420L Cell Biology Laboratory Fall
BIOS 620L Cell Biology Laboratory (Graduate Level) Fall
BIOS 430 Molecular Biology Spring
BIOS 630 Molecular Biology (Graduate Level) Spring
BIOS 430L Molecular Biology Laboratory Spring
BIOS 630L Molecular Biology Laboratory (Graduate Level) Spring
BIOS 351 Medical Microbiology Spring/Summer
BIOS 465 Applied Biotechnology Spring
BIOS 665 Applied Biotechnology (Graduate Level) Spring
BIOS 107 Humans and Their Environment Summer
BIOS 490 Cancer Biology Summer
BIOS 690 Cancer Biology (Graduate Level) Summer
BIOS 491 Undergraduate Research Fall

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