Tobacco seeds expressing feedback-insensitive cystathionine gamma-synthase exhibit elevated content of methionine and altered primary metabolic profile

Matityahu, Ifat; Godo, Itamar; Yael Hacham; Amir, Rachel
January 2013
BMC Plant Biology;2013, Vol. 13 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
Background The essential sulfur-containing amino acid methionine plays a vital role in plant metabolism and human nutrition. In this study, we aimed to elucidate the regulatory role of the first committed enzyme in the methionine biosynthesis pathway, cystathionine γ-synthase (CGS), on methionine accumulation in tobacco seeds. We also studied the effect of this manipulation on the seed's metabolism. Results Two forms of Arabidopsis CGS (AtCGS) were expressed under the control of the seedsspecific promoter of legumin B4: feedback-sensitive F-AtCGS (LF seeds), and feedbackinsensitive T-AtCGS (LT seeds). Unexpectedly, the soluble content of methionine was reduced significantly in both sets of transgenic seeds. Amino acids analysis and feeding experiments indicated that although the level of methionine was reduced, the flux through its synthesis had increased. As a result, the level of protein-incorporated methionine had increased significantly in LT seeds by up to 60%, but this was not observed in LF seeds, whose methionine content is tightly regulated. This increase was accompanied by a higher content of other protein-incorporated amino acids, which led to insignificantly higher protein content in the seeds. In addition, the levels of reducing sugars (representing starch) were slightly but significantly reduced, while that of oil was insignificantly reduced. To assess the impact of the high expression level of T-AtCGS in seeds on other primary metabolites, metabolic profiling using GC-MS was performed. This revealed significant alterations to the primary seed metabolism manifested by a significant increase in eight annotated metabolites (mostly sugars and their oxidized derivatives), while the levels of 12 other metabolites were reduced significantly in LT compared to wild-type seeds. Conclusion Expression of T-AtCGS leads to an increase in the level of total Met, higher contents of total amino acids, and significant changes in the levels of 20 annotated metabolites. The high level of oxidized metabolites, the two stress-associated amino acids, proline and serine, and low level of glutathione suggest oxidative stress that occurs during LT seed development. This study provides information on the metabolic consequence of increased CGS activity in seeds and how it affects the seed's nutritional quality.


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