, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 1979-1986

Antisense-overexpression of the MsCOMT gene induces changes in lignin and total phenol contents in transgenic tobacco plants

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Abstract

Initially, we isolated the caffeic acid O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene from Miscanthus sinensis (accession number HM062766.1). Next, we produced transgenic tobacco plants with down-regulated COMT gene expression to study its control of total phenol and lignin content and to perform morphological analysis. These transgenic plants were found to have reduced PAL and ascorbate peroxidases expression, which are related to the phenylpropanoid pathway and antioxidant activity. The MsCOMT-down-regulated plants had decreased total lignin in the leaves and stem compared with control plants. Reduced flavonol concentrations were confirmed in MsCOMT-down-regulated transgenic plants. We also observed a morphological difference, with reduced plant cell number in transgenic plants harboring antisense MsCOMT. The transgenic tobacco plants with down-regulated COMT gene expression demonstrate that COMT plays a crucial role related to controlling lignin and phenol content in plants. Also, COMT activity may be related to flavonoid production in the plant lignin pathway.