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BMC Plant Biol. 2004 Jan 28;4:1.

Production of Se-methylselenocysteine in transgenic plants expressing selenocysteine methyltransferase.

Author information

  • 1Center for Plant Environmental Stress Physiology, 1165 Horticulture Building, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA. ellisd@purdue.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

It has become increasingly evident that dietary Se plays a significant role in reducing the incidence of lung, colorectal and prostate cancer in humans. Different forms of Se vary in their chemopreventative efficacy, with Se-methylselenocysteine being one of the most potent. Interestingly, the Se accumulating plant Astragalus bisulcatus (Two-grooved poison vetch) contains up to 0.6% of its shoot dry weight as Se-methylselenocysteine. The ability of this Se accumulator to biosynthesize Se-methylselenocysteine provides a critical metabolic shunt that prevents selenocysteine and selenomethionine from entering the protein biosynthetic machinery. Such a metabolic shunt has been proposed to be vital for Se tolerance in A. bisulcatus. Utilization of this mechanism in other plants may provide a possible avenue for the genetic engineering of Se tolerance in plants ideally suited for the phytoremediation of Se contaminated land. Here, we describe the overexpression of a selenocysteine methyltransferase from A. bisulcatus to engineer Se-methylselenocysteine metabolism in the Se non-accumulator Arabidopsis thaliana (Thale cress).

RESULTS:

By over producing the A. bisulcatus enzyme selenocysteine methyltransferase in A. thaliana, we have introduced a novel biosynthetic ability that allows the non-accumulator to accumulate Se-methylselenocysteine and gamma-glutamylmethylselenocysteine in shoots. The biosynthesis of Se-methylselenocysteine in A. thaliana also confers significantly increased selenite tolerance and foliar Se accumulation.

CONCLUSION:

These results demonstrate the feasibility of developing transgenic plant-based production of Se-methylselenocysteine, as well as bioengineering selenite resistance in plants. Selenite resistance is the first step in engineering plants that are resistant to selenate, the predominant form of Se in the environment.

PMID:
15005814
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC343276
Free PMC Article

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