, Volume 78, Issue 6, pp 525-543
Date: 02 Feb 2012

Serotonin accumulation in transgenic rice by over-expressing tryptophan decarboxlyase results in a dark brown phenotype and stunted growth

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Abstract

A mutant M47286 with a stunted growth, low fertility and dark-brown phenotype was identified from a T-DNA-tagged rice mutant library. This mutant contained a copy of the T-DNA tag inserted at the location where the expression of two putative tryptophan decarboxlyase genes, TDC-1 and TDC-3, were activated. Enzymatic assays of both recombinant proteins showed tryptophan decarboxlyase activities that converted tryptophan to tryptamine, which could be converted to serotonin by a constitutively expressed tryptamine 5′ hydroxylase (T5H) in rice plants. Over-expression of TDC-1 and TDC-3 in transgenic rice recapitulated the stunted growth, dark-brown phenotype and resulted in a low fertility similar to M47286. The degree of stunted growth and dark-brown color was proportional to the expression levels of TDC-1 and TDC-3. The levels of tryptamine and serotonin accumulation in these transgenic rice lines were also directly correlated with the expression levels of TDC-1 and TDC-3. A mass spectrometry assay demonstrated that the dark-brown leaves and hulls in the TDC-overexpressing transgenic rice were caused by the accumulation of serotonin dimer and that the stunted growth and low fertility were also caused by the accumulation of serotonin and serotonin dimer, but not tryptamine. These results represent the first evidence that over-expression of TDC results in stunted growth, low fertility and the accumulation of serotonin, which when converted to serotonin dimer, leads to a dark brown plant color.