Lysine is an essential amino acid, synthesized in plants in the aspartic acid pathway. The lysine catabolism is performed by the action of two consecutive enzymes, lysine 2-oxoglutarate reductase (LOR) and saccharopine dehydrogenase (SDH). The steady state of lysine is controlled by both, synthesis and catabolism rates, with the final soluble lysine concentration in cereal seeds a direct result of these processes. In the last 40 years, the enzymes involved in lysine biosynthesis have been purified and characterized from some plant species such as carrot, maize, barley, rice, and coix. Recent reports have revealed that lysine degradation might be related to various physiological processes, for instance growth, development and response to environmental changes and stress. The understanding of the regulatory aspects of the lysine biosynthetic and catabolic pathways and manipulation of related enzymes is important for the production of high-lysine plants.
Lysine is an essential amino acid synthesized in plants via the aspartic acid pathway. The catabolism of lysine is performed by the action of two consecutive enzymes, lysine 2-oxoglutarate reductase (LOR, EC 126.96.36.199) and saccharopine dehydrogenase (SDH, EC 188.8.131.52). The final soluble lysine concentration in cereal seeds is controlled by both synthesis and catabolism rates. The production and characterization of high-lysine plants species depends on knowledge of the regulatory aspects of lysine metabolism and manipulation of the key enzymes. We have for the first time isolated, partially purified, and characterized LOR and SDH from developing sorghum seeds, which exhibited low levels of activity. LOR and SDH were only located in the endosperm and were very unstable during the isolation and purification procedures. LOR and SDH exhibited some distinct properties when compared to the enzymes isolated from other plant species, including a low salt concentration required to elute the enzymes during anion-exchange chromatography and the presence of multimeric forms with distinct molecular masses.
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