Plant Cell Reports

, Volume 33, Issue 12, pp 1963–1976 | Cite as

Knockdown of the 7S globulin subunits shifts distribution of nitrogen sources to the residual protein fraction in transgenic soybean seeds

  • Tetsuya YamadaEmail author
  • Yoshihiro Mori
  • Kazuho Yasue
  • Nobuyuki Maruyama
  • Keisuke Kitamura
  • Jun Abe
Original Paper


Key message

A platform of gene silencing by amiRNA had been established in fertile transgenic soybean. We demonstrated that knockdown of storage protein shifted the distribution of nitrogen sources in soybean seeds.


Artificial microRNAs (amiRNAs) were designed using the precursor sequence of the endogenous soybean (Glycine max L. Merrill) miRNA gma-miR159a and expressed in transgenic soybean plants to suppress the biosynthesis of 7S globulin, which is one of the major storage proteins. Seed-specific expression of these amiRNAs (amiR-7S) resulted in a strong suppression of 7S globulin subunit genes and decreased accumulation of the 7S globulin subunits in seeds. Thus, the results demonstrate that a platform for gene silencing by amiRNA was first developed in fertile transgenic soybean plants. There was no difference in nitrogen, carbon, and lipid contents between amiR-7S and control seeds. Four protein fractions were collected from defatted mature seeds on the basis of solubility at different pH to examine the distribution of nitrogen sources and compensatory effects. In the whey and lipophilic fractions, nitrogen content was similar in amiR-7S and control seeds. Nitrogen content was significantly decreased in the major soluble protein fraction and increased in the residual fraction (okara) of the amiR-7S seeds. Amino acid analysis revealed that increased nitrogen compounds in okara were proteins or peptides rather than free amino acids. Our study indicates that the decrease in 7S globulin subunits shifts the distribution of nitrogen sources to okara in transgenic soybean seeds.


Glycine max AmiRNA Gene silencing Storage protein Protein content Amino acids 



We thank Y. Kitsui and M. Suzuki (Hokkaido University), and E. Okuda (Kyoto University) for technical assistance. This work was supported in part by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (23580002) and by CREST of the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JAT).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

299_2014_1671_MOESM1_ESM.docx (899 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 898 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tetsuya Yamada
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yoshihiro Mori
    • 1
  • Kazuho Yasue
    • 2
  • Nobuyuki Maruyama
    • 3
  • Keisuke Kitamura
    • 1
  • Jun Abe
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of AgricultureHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan
  2. 2.School of AgricultureHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan
  3. 3.Graduate School of AgricultureKyoto UniversityUjiJapan

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