• Open Access

Production of a recombinant full-length collagen type I α-1 and of a 45-kDa collagen type I α-1 fragment in barley seeds


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Recombinant DNA technology can be used to design and express collagen and gelatin-related proteins with predetermined composition and structure. Barley seed was chosen as a production host for a recombinant full-length collagen type I α1 (rCIa1) and a related 45-kDa rCIa1 fragment. The transgenic barley seeds were shown to accumulate both the rCIa1 and the 45-kDa rCIa1 fragment. Even when the amount of the rCIa1 was just above the detection threshold, this work using rCIa1 as a model demonstrated for the first time that barley seed can be used as a production system for collagen-related structural proteins. The 45-kDa rCI1a fragment expression, targeted to the endoplasmic reticulum, was controlled by three different promoters (a constitutive maize ubiquitin, seed endosperm-specific rice glutelin and germination-specific barley α-amylase fusion) to compare their effects on rCIa1 accumulation. Highest accumulation of the 45-kDa rCIa1 was obtained with the glutelin promoter (140 mg/kg seed), whereas the lowest accumulation was obtained with the α-amylase promoter. To induce homozygosity for stable 45-kDa rCIa1 production in the transgenic lines, doubled haploid (DH) progeny was generated through microspore culture. The 45-kDa rCIa1 expression levels achieved from the best DH lines were 13 mg/kg dry seeds under the ubiquitin promoter and 45 mg/kg dry seeds under the glutelin promoter. Mass spectroscopy and amino acid composition analysis of the purified 45-kDa rCIa1 fragment revealed that a small percent of prolines were hydroxylated with no additional detectable post-translational modifications.