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Plant Biotechnol J. 2011 Dec;9(9):1100-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7652.2011.00632.x. Epub 2011 Jun 20.

Global and grain-specific accumulation of glycoside hydrolase family 10 xylanases in transgenic maize (Zea mays).

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  • 1Agrivida, Inc., Medford, MA, USA.


In planta expression of cell wall degrading enzymes is a promising approach for developing optimized biomass feedstocks that enable low-cost cellulosic biofuels production. Transgenic plants could serve as either an enzyme source for the hydrolysis of pretreated biomass or as the primary biomass feedstock in an autohydrolysis process. In this study, two xylanase genes, Bacillus sp. NG-27 bsx and Clostridium stercorarium xynB, were expressed in maize (Zea mays) under the control of two different promoters. Severe phenotypic effects were associated with xylanase accumulation in maize, including stunted plants and sterile grains. Global expression of these xylanases from the rice ubiquitin 3 promoter (rubi3) resulted in enzyme accumulation of approximately 0.01 mg enzyme per gram dry weight, or approximately 0.1% of total soluble protein (TSP). Grain-specific expression of these enzymes from the rice glutelin 4 promoter (GluB-4) resulted in higher-level accumulation of active enzyme, with BSX and XynB accumulating up to 4.0% TSP and 16.4% TSP, respectively, in shriveled grains from selected T0 plants. These results demonstrate the potential utility of the GluB-4 promoter for biotechnological applications. The phenotypic effects of xylanase expression in maize presented here demonstrate the difficulties of hemicellulase expression in an important crop for cellulosic biofuels production. Potential alternate approaches to achieve xylanase accumulation in planta without the accompanying negative phenotypes are discussed.

© 2011 Agrivida Inc. Plant Biotechnology Journal © 2011 Society for Experimental Biology, Association of Applied Biologists and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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