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Regulation of aspartate-derived amino acid homeostasis in potato plants (Solanum tuberosum L.) by expression of E. coli homoserine kinase

Summary.

The availability of the carbon backbone O-phosphohomoserine (OPHS) is critical to methionine (met) and threonine (thr) synthesis. OPHS derives from homoserine and is formed by homoserine kinase (HSK). To clarify the function of HSK in cellular metabolism, the E. coli HSK ortholog thrB was expressed in potato plants targeting the EcHSK protein to chloroplasts and to the cytosol. Both approaches resulted in up to 11 times increased total HSK enzyme activity. Transgenic plants exhibited reduced homoserine levels while met and thr did not accumulate significantly. However, the precursor cysteine and upstream intermediates of met such as cystathionine and homocysteine did indicating an accelerated carbon flow towards the end products. Coincidently, plants with elevated cytosolic levels of EcHSK exhibited a reduction in transcript levels of the endogenous HSK, as well as of threonine synthase (TS), cystathionine β-lyase (CbL), and met synthase (MS). In all plants, cystathionine γ-synthase (CgS) expression remained relatively unchanged from wild type levels, while S-adenosylmethionine synthetase (SAMS) expression increased. Feeding studies with externally supplied homoserine fostered the synthesis of met and thr but the regulation of synthesis of both amino acids retained the wild type regulation pattern. The results indicate that excess of plastidial localised HSK activity does not influence the de novo synthesis of met and thr. However, expression of HSK in the cytosol resulted in the down-regulation of gene expression of pathway genes probably mediated via OPHS. We integrated these data in a novel working model describing the regulatory mechanism of met and thr homeostasis.

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Authors’ address: Dr. Holger Hesse, Department of Molecular Physiology, Max-Planck-Institut für Molekulare Pflanzenphysiologie, Am Mühlenberg 1, D-14476 Golm, Germany

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Rinder, J., Casazza, A., Hoefgen, R. et al. Regulation of aspartate-derived amino acid homeostasis in potato plants (Solanum tuberosum L.) by expression of E. coli homoserine kinase. Amino Acids 34, 213–222 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-007-0504-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-007-0504-5

  • Keywords: Aspartate family – Homoserine kinase – Methionine – Threonine – Potato