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Phytochemistry. 2007 Jun;68(11):1521-9. Epub 2007 Apr 26.

Down-regulation of hydroxycinnamoyl CoA: shikimate hydroxycinnamoyl transferase in transgenic alfalfa affects lignification, development and forage quality.

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  • 1Plant Biology Division, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, 2510 Sam Noble Parkway, Ardmore, OK 73401, USA.

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  • Phytochemistry. 2007 Jul;68(14):2023.

Abstract

The recently discovered enzyme hydroxycinnamoyl CoA: shikimate hydroxycinnamoyl transferase (HCT) catalyzes the reactions both immediately preceding and following the insertion of the 3-hydroxyl group into monolignol precursors. A number of independent transgenic lines of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) were generated in which the levels of HCT were reduced through antisense HCT expression under control of the bean PAL2 promoter which is preferentially expressed in vascular tissue. Reduction of enzyme activity in these lines was from at least 15-50%. The most severely down-regulated lines exhibited significant stunting, reduction of biomass and delayed flowering. HCT down-regulation resulted in strongly reduced lignin content and striking changes in lignin monomer composition, with predominant deposition of 4-hydroxyphenyl units in the lignin. Vascular structure was impaired in the most strongly down-regulated lines. Analysis of forage quality parameters showed strong reductions of neutral- and acid-detergent fiber in the down-regulated lines, in parallel with large increases (up to 20%) in dry matter forage digestibility. Although manipulation of lignin biosynthesis can greatly improve forage digestibility, accompanying effects on plant development need to be better understood.

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