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Plant J. 2005 Mar;41(5):685-96.

Methionine and threonine synthesis are limited by homoserine availability and not the activity of homoserine kinase in Arabidopsis thaliana.

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Department of Plant Biology and Pathology, Biotechnology Center for Agriculture and the Environment, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8520, USA.


Homoserine kinase (HSK) produces O-phospho-l-homoserine (HserP) used by cystathionine gamma-synthase (CGS) for Met synthesis and threonine synthase (TS) for Thr synthesis. The effects of overexpressing Arabidopsis thaliana HSK, CGS, and Escherichia coli TS (eTS), each controlled by the 35S promoter, were compared. The results indicate that in Arabidopsis Hser supply is the major factor limiting the synthesis of HserP, Met and Thr. HSK is not limiting and CGS or TS control the partitioning of HserP. HSK overexpression had no effect on the level of soluble HserP, Met or Thr, however, when treated with Hser these plants produced far more HserP than wild type. Met and Thr also accumulated markedly after Hser treatment but the increase was similar in HSK overexpressing and wild-type plants. CGS overexpression was previously shown to increase Met content, but had no effect on Thr. After Hser treatment Met accumulation increased in CGS-overexpressing plants compared with wild type, whereas HserP declined and Thr was unaffected. Arabidopsis responded differentially to eTS expression depending on the level of the enzyme. At the highest eTS level the Thr content was not increased, but the phenotype was negatively affected and the T1 plants died before reproducing. Comparatively low eTS did not affect phenotype or Thr/Met level, however after Hser treatment HserP and Met accumulation were reduced compared with wild type and Thr was increased slightly. At intermediate eTS activity seedling growth was retarded unless Met was supplied and CGS expression was induced, indicating that eTS limited HserP availability for Met synthesis.

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