Transgenic Research

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 173–186 | Cite as

Over-expression of the cucumber expansin gene (Cs-EXPA1) in transgenic maize seed for cellulose deconstruction

  • Sangwoong Yoon
  • Shivakumar P. Devaiah
  • Seo-eun Choi
  • Jeff Bray
  • Robert Love
  • Jeffrey Lane
  • Carol Drees
  • John H. Howard
  • Elizabeth E. Hood
Original Paper


Plant cell wall degradation into fermentable sugars by cellulases is one of the greatest barriers to biofuel production. Expansin protein loosens the plant cell wall by opening up the complex of cellulose microfibrils and polysaccharide matrix components thereby increasing its accessibility to cellulases. We over-expressed cucumber expansin in maize kernels to produce enough protein to assess its potential to serve as an industrial enzyme for applications particularly in biomass conversion. We used the globulin-1 embryo-preferred promoter to express the cucumber expansin gene in maize seed. Expansin protein was targeted to one of three sub-cellular locations: the cell wall, the vacuole, or the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). To assess the level of expansin accumulation in seeds of transgenic kernels, a high throughput expansin assay was developed. The highest expressing plants were chosen and enriched crude expansin extract from those plants was tested for synergistic effects with cellulase on several lignocellulosic substrates. Activity of recombinant cucumber expansin from transgenic kernels was confirmed on these pretreated substrates. The best transgenic lines (ER-targeted) can now be used for breeding to increase expansin expression for use in the biomass conversion industry. Results of these experiments show the success of expansin over-expression and accumulation in transgenic maize seed without negative impact on growth and development and confirm its synergistic effect with cellulase on deconstruction of complex cell wall substrates.


Cucumber expansin Over-expression Transgenic maize Expansin assay 



This work was supported by a grant from the Department of Energy DE FG36 GO88025. We gratefully acknowledge Dr. Daniel Cosgrove (The Pennsylvania State University) for providing the cucumber expansin gene and the anti-expansin antibodies used in this work.

Supplementary material

11248_2015_9925_MOESM1_ESM.docx (795 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 797 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sangwoong Yoon
    • 1
    • 10
  • Shivakumar P. Devaiah
    • 2
  • Seo-eun Choi
    • 3
  • Jeff Bray
    • 4
  • Robert Love
    • 5
  • Jeffrey Lane
    • 6
  • Carol Drees
    • 7
  • John H. Howard
    • 8
  • Elizabeth E. Hood
    • 9
  1. 1.Arkansas Biosciences InstituteState UniversityUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesEast Tennessee State UniversityJohnson CityUSA
  3. 3.Department of MathematicsArkansas State UniversityState UniversityUSA
  4. 4.Department of Veterinary Physiology and PharmacologyTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  5. 5.BryanUSA
  6. 6.Hannah EngineeringCollege StationUSA
  7. 7.College StationUSA
  8. 8.Applied Biotechnology InstituteSan Luis ObispoUSA
  9. 9.College of Agriculture and Technology and Arkansas Biosciences InstituteArkansas State UniversityState UniversityUSA
  10. 10.Department of Plant SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

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