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Biochem J. 1997 Jul 15;325 ( Pt 2):331-7.

Overexpression of arginine decarboxylase in transgenic plants.

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Department of Genetics and Microbiology, Institute of Food Research, Norwich Research Park, Colney, Norwich NR47UA, U.K.


The activity of arginine decarboxylase (ADC), a key enzyme in plant polyamine biosynthesis, was manipulated in two generations of transgenic tobacco plants. Second-generation transgenic plants overexpressing an oat ADC cDNA contained high levels of oat ADC transcript relative to tobacco ADC, possessed elevated ADC enzyme activity and accumulated 10-20-fold more agmatine, the direct product of ADC. In the presence of high levels of the precursor agmatine, no increase in the levels of the polyamines putrescine, spermidine and spermine was detected in the transgenic plants. Similarly, the activities of ornithine decarboxylase and S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase were unchanged. No diversion of polyamine metabolism into the hydroxycinnamic acid-polyamine conjugate pool or into the tobacco alkaloid nicotine was detected. Activity of the catabolic enzyme diamine oxidase was the same in transgenic and control plants. The elevated ADC activity and agmatine production were subjected to a metabolic/physical block preventing increased, i.e. deregulated, polyamine accumulation. Overaccumulation of agmatine in the transgenic plants did not affect morphological development.

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