essential amino acids
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract To study the regulation of lysine and threonine metabolism in plants, we have transformed Arabidopsis thaliana with chimeric genes encoding the two bacterial enzymes dihydrodipicolinate synthase (DHPS) and aspartate kinase (AK). These bacterial enzymes are much less sensitive to feedback inhibition by lysine and threonine than their plant counterparts. Transgenic plants expressing the bacterial DHPS overproduced lysine, but lysine levels were quite variable within and between transgenic genotypes and there was no direct correlation between the levels of free lysine and the activity of DHPS. The most lysine-overproducing plants also exhibited abnormal phenotypes. However, these phenotypes were detected only at early stages of plant growth, while at later stages, new buds emerged that looked completely normal and set seeds. Wild-type plants exhibited relatively high levels of free threonine, suggesting that in Arabidopsis AK regulation may be more relaxed than in other plants. This was also supported by the fact that expression of the bacterial AK did not cause any dramatic elevation in this amino acid. Yet, the relaxed regulation of threonine synthesis in Arabidopsis was not simply due to a reduced sensitivity of the endogenous AK to feedback inhibition by lysine and threonine because growth of wild-type plants, but not of transgenic plants expressing the bacterial AK, was arrested in media containing these two amino acids. The present results, combined with previous studies from our laboratory, suggest that the regulation of lysine and threonine metabolism is highly variable among plant species and is subject to complex biochemical, physiological and environmental controls. The suitability of these transgenic Arabidopsis plants for molecular and genetic dissection of lysine and threonine metabolism is also discussed.
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