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Metab Eng. 2002 Jan;4(1):3-11.

Metabolic engineering of amino acids and storage proteins in plants.

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Department of Plant Sciences, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.


Amino acid pathways are important targets for plant metabolic engineering. Since plants represent the major global food supply, large efforts are devoted to increasing the content of "essential" amino acids, which are absolutely required in human foods and animal feeds. Engineering of amino acids is also undertaken to improve plant growth and stress tolerance. Many of the pathways of amino acid metabolism in plants have been elucidated, and genes encoding most of the enzymes are now available. The expression of recombinant genes in transgenic plants, coupled with genetic and biochemical approaches, has contributed significantly to the understanding of regulatory networks of the metabolism of amino acids and their incorporation into proteins. This knowledge is now being extensively applied to metabolic engineering of crops, and this is reflected by a large patent literature. The problems of engineering plant amino acid metabolism, and ways to solve them, are discussed using the essential amino acids lysine and methionine as examples.

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