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Transgenic Indian mustard (Brassica juncea) plants expressing an Arabidopsis phytochelatin synthase (AtPCS1) exhibit enhanced As and Cd tolerance


Phytochelatins (PCs) are post-translationally synthesized thiol reactive peptides that play important roles in detoxification of heavy metal and metalloids in plants and other living organisms. The overall goal of this study is to develop transgenic plants with increased tolerance for and accumulation of heavy metals and metalloids from soil by expressing an Arabidopsis thaliana AtPCS1 gene, encoding phytochelatin synthase (PCS), in Indian mustard (Brassica juncea L.). A FLAG-tagged AtPCS1 gDNA, under its native promoter, is expressed in Indian mustard, and transgenic pcs lines have been compared with wild-type plants for tolerance to and accumulation of cadmium (Cd) and arsenic (As). Compared to wild type plants, transgenic plants exhibit significantly higher tolerance to Cd and As. Shoots of Cd-treated pcs plants have significantly higher concentrations of PCs and thiols than those of wild-type plants. Shoots of wild-type plants accumulated significantly more Cd than those of transgenic plants, while accumulation of As in transgenic plants was similar to that in wild type plants. Although phytochelatin synthase improves the ability of Indian mustard to tolerate higher levels of the heavy metal Cd and the metalloid As, it does not increase the accumulation potential of these metals in the above ground tissues of Indian mustard plants.

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Arabidopsis phytochelatin synthase




γ- glutamylcysteine synthetase


glutathione synthase






phytochelatin synthase


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We would like to thank Dr. Norman Terry for supplying us with Indian mustard seed, including transgenic line GS7, and Dr. Peter Goldsbrough for helping us with PCs analyses. This material is based upon work supported by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

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Correspondence to Schuyler S. Korban.

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Gasic, K., Korban, S.S. Transgenic Indian mustard (Brassica juncea) plants expressing an Arabidopsis phytochelatin synthase (AtPCS1) exhibit enhanced As and Cd tolerance. Plant Mol Biol 64, 361–369 (2007).

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  • Arsenic
  • Brassica juncea L.
  • Cadmium
  • Heavy metal accumulation
  • Phytochelatin synthase
  • Phytoremediation