• Open Access

Modifying lysine biosynthesis and catabolism in corn with a single bifunctional expression/silencing transgene cassette


* Correspondence (fax +1 860 572-5240; e-mail shihshieh.huang@monsanto.com)


Although it is one of the major crops in the world, corn has poor nutritional quality for human and animal consumption due to its low lysine content. Here, we report a method of simultaneous expression of a deregulated lysine biosynthetic enzyme, CordapA, and reduction of a bifunctional lysine degradation enzyme, lysine-ketoglutarate reductase/saccharophine dehydrogenase (LKR/SDH), in transgenic corn plants by a single transgene cassette. This is accomplished by inserting an inverted-repeat sequence targeting the maize LKR/SDH gene into an intron of a transgene cassette that expresses CordapA. This combination of LKR/SDH silencing and CordapA expression led to the accumulation of free lysine to over 4000 p.p.m. in transgenic corn grain, compared to less than 100 p.p.m. in wild-type controls. This intron-embedded silencing cassette design reduces the number of transgene cassettes needed in transgenic approaches for manipulating metabolic pathways that sometimes require expression of one gene and silencing of another.