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Enhancement of the primary flavor compound methional in potato by increasing the level of soluble methionine

Di, R., Kim, J., Martin, M.N., Leustek, T., Jhoo, J., Ho, C.T., Tumer, N.E.
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2003 v.51 no.19 pp. 5695-5702
Solanum tuberosum, transgenic plants, genetic transformation, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, gene transfer, lyases, complementary DNA, gene expression, leaves, tubers, roots, enzyme activity, amino acid metabolism, methionine, biosynthesis, flavor compounds, potatoes, organic sulfur compounds, food composition
The primary flavor compound in potato, methional, is synthesized from methionine by the Strecker degradation reaction. A major problem associated with potato processing is the loss of methional. Methional or its precursor, methionine, is not added back during potato processing due to high costs of production. A novel approach to enhance the methional level in processed potato would be to increase the production of its precursor, soluble methionine (Met). Cystathionine γ-synthase (CGS) is a key enzyme regulating methionine biosynthesis in plants. To increase the level of soluble methionine in potato, Arabidopsis thaliana CGS cDNA was introduced under transcriptional control of the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter into Russet Burbank potato by Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. Ten different transgenic potato lines (CGS1-10) were analyzed. Immunoblot analysis demonstrated that Arabidopsis CGS is expressed in the leaves, tubers, and roots of transgenic potato plants. CGS enzymatic activity was higher in the leaves and roots of the transgenic potato lines compared to the wild-type potato. Methionine levels in the leaves, roots and tubers of transgenic potato lines were enhanced as high as 6-fold compared to those in wild type potato plants. The methional level in baked tubers of field-grown transgenic potato lines was increased between 2.4- and 4.4-fold in lines CGS1, CGS2, and CGS4. The increase observed in methional levels correlated with the soluble methionine level in the tubers from the same lines measured before processing. These results provide the first evidence that the methional level can be enhanced in processed potatoes by increasing the production of its precursor, methionine.