Increasing maize seed methionine by mRNA stability

Plant J. 2002 May;30(4):395-402. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-313x.2001.01285.x.


The amino acid methionine is a common protein building block that is also important in other cellular processes. Plants, unlike animals, synthesize methionine de novo and are thus a dietary source of this nutrient. A new approach for using maize as a source of nutrient methionine is described. Maize seeds, a major component of animal feeds, have variable levels of protein-bound methionine. This variability is a result of post-transcriptional regulation of the Dzs10 gene, which encodes a seed-specific high-methionine storage protein. Here we eliminate methionine variability by identifying and replacing the cis-acting site for Dzs10 regulation using transgenic seeds. Interestingly, two different mechanisms affect mRNA accumulation, one dependent on and the other independent of the untranslated regions (UTRs) of Dzs10 RNA. Accumulation of chimeric Dzs10 mRNA was not reduced in hybrid crosses and was uncoupled from genomic imprinting by Dzr1, a regulator of Dzs10. Uniform high levels of Dzs10 protein were maintained over five backcross generations of the transgene. The increased level of methionine in these transgenic seeds allowed the formulation of a useful animal feed ration without the addition of synthetic methionine.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / analysis
  • Animal Feed / analysis
  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Methionine / genetics
  • Methionine / metabolism*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Plasmids
  • RNA Stability
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Seeds / genetics*
  • Seeds / metabolism
  • Untranslated Regions / genetics
  • Zea mays / genetics*
  • Zea mays / metabolism


  • Amino Acids
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Untranslated Regions
  • Methionine