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Lysine accumulation in maize cell cultures transformed with a lysine-insensitive form of maize dihydrodipicolinate synthase

Bittel, D.C., Shver, J.M., Somers, D.A., Gengenbach, B.G.
Theoretical and applied genetics 1996 v.92 no.1 pp. 70-77
Zea mays, complementary DNA, transferases, mutagenesis, recombinant DNA, genetic transformation, gene expression, lysine, amino acid metabolism, cell suspension culture, enzyme activity, kinases, structural genes, promoter regions, aspartate kinase
Lysine is one of the nutritionally limiting amino acids in food and feed products made from maize (Zea mays L.). Two enzymes in the lysine biosynthesis pathway, aspartate kinase (AK) and dihydrodipicolinate synthase (DHPS), have primary roles in regulating the level of lysine accumulation in plant cells because both enzymes are feedback-inhibited by lysine. An isolated cDNA clone for maize DHPS was modified to encode a DHPS much less sensitive to lysine inhibition. The altered DHPS cDNA was transformed into maize cell suspension cultures to determine the effect on DHPS activity and lysine accumulation. Partially purified DHPS (wild-type plus mutant) from transformed cultures was less sensitive to lysine inhibition than wild-type DHPS from nontransformed cultures. Transformed cultures had cellular free lysine levels as much as four times higher than those of nontransformed controls. Thus, we have shown that reducing the feedback inhibition of DHPS by lysine can lead to increased lysine accumulation in maize cells. Increasing the capacity for lysine synthesis may be an important step in improving the nutritional quality of food and feed products made from maize.