Seed-specific expression of the lysine-rich protein gene sb401 significantly increases both lysine and total protein content in maize seeds

Food Nutr Bull. 2005 Dec;26(4):427-31.


The sb401 gene from potato (Solanum berthaultii) encoding a pollen-specific protein with high lysine content was successfully integrated into the genome of maize plants, and its expression was correlated with increased levels of lysine and total protein content in maize seeds. A plasmid vector containing the sb401 gene under the control of a maize seed-specific expression storage protein promoter (P19z) was constructed and introduced into maize calli by microprojectile bombardment. The integration of the sb401 gene into the maize genome was confirmed by Southern blot analysis, and its expression was confirmed by Western blot analysis. Quantification of the lysine and protein contents in R1 maize seeds showed that, compared with the nontransgenic maize control, the lysine content increased by 16.1% to 54.8% and the total protein content increased by 11.6% to 39.0%. There were no visible morphological changes in the vegetative parts and seeds of the transgenic maize plants. Lysine and protein analysis of the transgenic maize grains showed that the levels of lysine and total protein remained high for six continuous generations, indicating that the elevated lysine and total protein levels were heritable. These results indicate that the sb401 gene could be successfully employed in breeding programs aimed at improving the nutritional value of maize.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Product Safety
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Humans
  • Lysine / metabolism*
  • Nutritive Value
  • Plant Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Plant Proteins / genetics*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Seeds / genetics
  • Seeds / metabolism
  • Transformation, Genetic
  • Zea mays / genetics
  • Zea mays / metabolism*


  • Plant Proteins
  • Lysine