Rice is the most consumed cereal grain in the world, but deficient in the essential amino acid lysine. Therefore, people in developing countries with limited food diversity who rely on rice as their major food source may suffer from malnutrition. Biofortification of stable crops by genetic engineering provides a fast and sustainable method to solve this problem. In this study, two endogenous rice lysine-rich histone proteins, RLRH1 and RLRH2, were over-expressed in rice seeds to achieve lysine biofortification. Their protein sequences passed an allergic sequence-based homology test. Their accumulations in rice seeds were raised to a moderate level by the use of a modified rice glutelin 1 promoter with lowered expression strength to avoid the occurrence of physiological abnormalities like unfolded protein response. The expressed proteins were further targeted to protein storage vacuoles for stable storage using a glutelin 1 signal peptide. The lysine content in the transgenic rice seeds was enhanced by up to 35 %, while other essential amino acids remained balanced, meeting the nutritional standards of the World Health Organization. No obvious unfolded protein response was detected. Different degrees of chalkiness, however, were detected in the transgenic seeds, and were positively correlated with both the levels of accumulated protein and lysine enhancement. This study offered a solution to the lysine deficiency in rice, while at the same time addressing concerns about food safety and physiological abnormalities in biofortified crops.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 17, 2014
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