A major nutritional drawback of many crop plants is their low content of several essential amino acids, particularly lysine. The biosynthesis of lysine in plants is regulated by several feedback loops. Dihydrodipicolinate synthase (DHPS) from Escherichia coli, a key enzyme in lysine biosynthesis, which is considerably less sensitive to lysine accumulation than the endogenous plant enzyme has been expressed in chloroplasts of tobacco leaves. Expression of the bacterial enzyme was accompanied by a significant increase in the level of free lysine. No increase in protein‐bound lysine was evident. Free lysine accumulation was positively correlated with the level of DHPS activity in various transgenic plants. Compartmentalization of DHPS in the chloroplast was essential for its participation in lysine biosynthesis as no lysine overproduction was obtained in transgenic plants that expressed the bacterial enzyme in the cytoplasm. The elevated level of free lysine in the transgenic plants was sufficient to inhibit, in vivo, a second key enzyme in lysine biosynthesis, namely, aspartate kinase, with no apparent influence on lysine accumulation. The present report not only provides a better understanding of the regulation of lysine biosynthesis in higher plants but also offers a new strategy to improve the production of this essential amino acid.
The Plant Journal – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 1992
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