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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2006 Oct;72(4):777-82. Epub 2006 Mar 3.

Engineering expression of bacterial polyphosphate kinase in tobacco for mercury remediation.

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  • 1Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Setsunan University, 45-1 Nagaotogecho, Hirakata, Osaka 573-0101, Japan.


To develop the potential of plants to sequester and accumulate mercurials from the contaminated sites, we engineered a tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) plant to express a bacterial ppk gene, encoding polyphosphate kinase (PPK), under control of a plant promoter. The designated plant expression plasmid pPKT116 that contains the entire coding region of ppk was used for Agrobacterium-mediated gene transfer into tobacco plants. A large number of independent transgenic tobacco plants were obtained, in some of which the ppk gene was stably integrated in the plant genome and substantially translated to the expected PPK protein in the transgenic tobacco. The presence of Hg2+ did not cause considerable morphological abnormalities in the transgenic tobacco, which grew, flowered, and set seed similarly to the wild-type tobacco on the medium containing normally toxic levels of Hg2+. The ppk-transgenic tobacco showed more resistance to Hg2+ and accumulated more mercury than its wild-type progenitors. These results suggest that ppk-specified polyphosphate has abilities to reduce mercury toxicity, probably via chelation mechanism, and also to accumulate mercury in the transgenic tobacco. Based on the results obtained in the present study, the expression of ppk gene in transgenic tobacco plants might provide a means for phytoremediation of mercury pollution.

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