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Genetic engineering to improve essential and conditionally essential amino acids in maize: transporter engineering as a reference

Abstract

Ruminants and humans are unable to synthesize essential amino acids (EAAs) and conditionally essential amino acids (CEAAs) under normal conditions and need to acquire them from plant sources. Maize plays, as a major crop, a central role in global food security. However, maize is deficient in several EAAs and CEAAs. Genetic engineering has been successfully used to enrich the EAA content of maize to some extent, including the content of Lys, Trp, and Met. However, research on other EAAs is lacking. Genetic engineering provides several viable approaches for increasing the EAA content in maize, including transformation of a single gene, transformation of multiple genes in a single cassette, overexpression of putative amino acid transporters, engineering the amino acid biosynthesis pathway including silencing of feedback inhibition enzymes, and overexpression of major enzymes in this pathway. These challenging processes require a deep understanding of the biosynthetic and metabolic pathways of individual amino acids, and the interaction of individual amino acids with other metabolic pathways.

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Fig. 1

source served as a control of the N source. OE1, OE2 and OE3 represent three independent gene overexpression lines. For more background, see Hasan (2015) and Pan et al. (2015). Reproduced from Fig. 10 (Pan et al. 2015) under a Creative Commons Attribution License (version 3.0)

Fig. 2

source served as a control of the N source. OE1, OE2 and OE3 represent three independent gene overexpression lines. For more background, see Hasan (2015) and Pan et al. (2015). Reproduced from Fig. 10 (Pan et al. 2015) under a Creative Commons Attribution License (version 3.0)

Abbreviations

AA:

Amino acid

CEAA:

Conditionally essential amino acid

EAA:

Essential amino acid

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Hasan, M.M., Rima, R. Genetic engineering to improve essential and conditionally essential amino acids in maize: transporter engineering as a reference. Transgenic Res 30, 207–220 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11248-021-00235-0

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Keywords

  • Maize
  • Amino acid transporters
  • Overexpression