Modifying lysine biosynthesis and catabolism in corn with a single bifunctional expression/silencing transgene cassette

Plant Biotechnol J. 2008 Jan;6(1):13-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7652.2007.00290.x. Epub 2007 Aug 28.


Although it is one of the major crops in the world, corn has poor nutritional quality for human and animal consumption due to its low lysine content. Here, we report a method of simultaneous expression of a deregulated lysine biosynthetic enzyme, CordapA, and reduction of a bifunctional lysine degradation enzyme, lysine-ketoglutarate reductase/saccharophine dehydrogenase (LKR/SDH), in transgenic corn plants by a single transgene cassette. This is accomplished by inserting an inverted-repeat sequence targeting the maize LKR/SDH gene into an intron of a transgene cassette that expresses CordapA. This combination of LKR/SDH silencing and CordapA expression led to the accumulation of free lysine to over 4000 p.p.m. in transgenic corn grain, compared to less than 100 p.p.m. in wild-type controls. This intron-embedded silencing cassette design reduces the number of transgene cassettes needed in transgenic approaches for manipulating metabolic pathways that sometimes require expression of one gene and silencing of another.

MeSH terms

  • Corynebacterium glutamicum / genetics*
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Targeting
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • Hydro-Lyases / genetics*
  • Introns
  • Lysine / biosynthesis*
  • Lysine / metabolism
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / metabolism
  • RNA, Double-Stranded
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Saccharopine Dehydrogenases / genetics*
  • Seeds / enzymology
  • Seeds / metabolism
  • Transgenes
  • Zea mays / enzymology
  • Zea mays / genetics
  • Zea mays / metabolism*


  • DNA, Complementary
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • RNA, Double-Stranded
  • Saccharopine Dehydrogenases
  • Hydro-Lyases
  • 4-hydroxy-tetrahydrodipicolinate synthase
  • Lysine