, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 79-92

Coexpression of thecys E andcys M genes ofSalmonella typhimurium in mammalian cells: a step towards establishing cysteine biosynthesis in sheep by transgenesis

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TheSalmonella typhimurium genes for serine acetyltransferase (cys E) and O-acetylserine sulphydrylase B (cys M) were isolated and characterized in order to express these as transgenes in sheep to establish a cysteine biosynthesis pathway and, thereby, to achieve an increased rate of wool growth. Comparison of theS. typhimurium andEscherichia coli genes showed considerable homology, both at the nucleotide and amino acid sequence levels. Thein vitro andin vivo expression studies showed that both genes could be transcribed and translated in eukaryotic cells and that their products could function as active enzymes. Thecys M gene ofS. typhimurium possessed a GUG initiation codon, like itsE. coli counterpart, but translation could be initiated using this codon in eukaryotic cells to give an active enzyme product. Chinese hamster ovary cells, stably transfected with a tandem arrangement of the two genes, showed a capacity to synthesize cysteinein vivo, indicating the establishment of a cysteine biosynthesis pathway in these cells. The measured levels of activity of the gene products suggest that improved wool growth is possible by transgenesis of sheep with these genes.