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The level of threonine in tobacco seeds is limited by substrate availability, while the level of methionine is limited also by the activity of cystathionine γ-synthase

Matityahu, I., Godo, I., Hacham, Y., Amir, R.
Plant science 2019 v.283 pp. 195-201
Nicotiana tabacum, aspartate kinase, aspartic acid, biosynthesis, cystathionine, essential amino acids, genes, homoserine, lysine, metabolites, methionine, nutritive value, seeds, threonine, tobacco
Methionine and threonine are two essential amino acids whose low levels limit the nutritional quality of seeds. The current objective was to define factors that regulate and might increase their levels in seeds. Feeding experiments carried out on receptacles of developing tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) capsules showed that 1 mM of S-methylmethionine increased the level of methionine to contents similar to 2.5 mM of homoserine, an intermediate metabolite of the aspartate family of amino acids. The latter also increased the level of threonine. Based on these findings, we generated tobacco seeds that expressed a combination of bacterial feedback-insensitive aspartate kinase (bAK), which was previously reported to have a high level of threonine/methionine, and feedback-insensitive cystathionine γ-synthase (CGS), the regulatory enzyme of the methionine biosynthesis pathway. Plants expressing this latter gene previously showed having higher levels of methionine. The results of total amino acids analysis showed that the level of threonine was highest in the bAK line, which has moderate levels of methionine and lysine, while the highest level of methionine was found in seeds expressing both heterologous genes. The results suggest that the level of threonine in tobacco seeds is limited by the substrate, while that of methionine is limited also by the activity of CGS.