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Planta. 2001 Mar;212(4):568-72.

Sterol composition and growth of transgenic tobacco plants expressing type-1 and type-2 sterol methyltransferases.

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  • 1Department of Plant Biology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala.


Transgenic tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.) plants with altered sterol composition were generated by transformation with plant cDNAs encoding type-1 and type-2 sterol methyltransferases (SMTs; EC For both SMT1 and SMT2 transformants, the transformation was associated with a reduction in the level of cholesterol, a non-alkylated sterol. In SMT1 transformants a corresponding increase of alkylated sterols, mainly 24-methyl cholesterol, was observed. On the other hand, in SMT2 transformants the level of 24-methyl cholesterol was reduced, whereas the level of sitosterol was raised. No appreciable alteration of total sterol content was observed for either genotype. The general phenotype of transformants was similar to that of controls, although SMT2 transformants displayed a reduced height at anthesis. The results show that plant sterol composition can be altered by transformation with an SMT1 cDNA without adverse effects on growth and development, and provide evidence, in planta, that SMT1 acts at the initial step in sterol alkylation.

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