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Plant Physiol. 2003 Feb;131(2):507-15.

The maize low-phytic acid mutant lpa2 is caused by mutation in an inositol phosphate kinase gene.

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Pioneer Hi-Bred International, P.O. Box 1004, Johnston, Iowa 50131, USA.


Reduced phytic acid content in seeds is a desired goal for genetic improvement in several crops. Low-phytic acid mutants have been used in genetic breeding, but it is not known what genes are responsible for the low-phytic acid phenotype. Using a reverse genetics approach, we found that the maize (Zea mays) low-phytic acid lpa2 mutant is caused by mutation in an inositol phosphate kinase gene. The maize inositol phosphate kinase (ZmIpk) gene was identified through sequence comparison with human and Arabidopsis Ins(1,3,4)P(3) 5/6-kinase genes. The purified recombinant ZmIpk protein has kinase activity on several inositol polyphosphates, including Ins(1,3,4)P(3), Ins(3,5,6)P(3), Ins(3,4,5,6)P(4), and Ins(1,2,5,6)P(4). The ZmIpk mRNA is expressed in the embryo, the organ where phytic acid accumulates in maize seeds. The ZmIpk Mutator insertion mutants were identified from a Mutator F(2) family. In the ZmIpk Mu insertion mutants, seed phytic acid content is reduced approximately 30%, and inorganic phosphate is increased about 3-fold. The mutants also accumulate myo-inositol and inositol phosphates as in the lpa2 mutant. Allelic tests showed that the ZmIpk Mu insertion mutants are allelic to the lpa2. Southern-blot analysis, cloning, and sequencing of the ZmIpk gene from lpa2 revealed that the lpa2-1 allele is caused by the genomic sequence rearrangement in the ZmIpk locus and the lpa2-2 allele has a nucleotide mutation that generated a stop codon in the N-terminal region of the ZmIpk open reading frame. These results provide evidence that ZmIpk is one of the kinases responsible for phytic acid biosynthesis in developing maize seeds.

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