Accumulation of a sulphur-rich seed albumin from sunflower in the leaves of transgenic subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum L.)
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A gene encoding a sulphur-rich, sunflower seed albumin (23% cysteine plus methionine) was modified to contain the promoter for the 35S RNA of cauliflower mosaic virus, in order to obtain leaf expression in transgenic plants. In addition, a sequence encoding an endoplasmic reticulum-retention signal was added to the 3′ end of the coding region so as to stabilize the protein by diverting it away from the vacuole. The modified gene was introduced into subterranean clover (T. subterraneum L.) and its expression was detected by northern and western blots and by immunogold localization. The albumin was accumulated in the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum, and, among six independent, transformed lines, it accumulated in the leaves of T0 transgenic plants at varying levels up to 0.3% of the total extractable protein. The level of accumulation of the sunflower albumin increased with increasing leaf age, and in the older leaves of the most highly expressing plants of the T1 generation it reached 1.3% of total extractable protein. Expression of the SSA gene was stable in the first and second generation progeny. These results indicate that there is potential for significantly improving the nutritional value of subterranean clover for ruminant animals such as sheep by expressing genes that code for sulphur-rich, rumen-stable proteins in leaves.
Keywordstransgenic subterranean clover seed protein gene leaf expression sulphur-rich protein
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