Improving the nutritive value of tubers: Elevation of cysteine and glutathione contents in the potato cultivar White Lady by marker-free transformation

Ibolya Stiller, Gábor Dancs, Holger Hesse, Rainer Hoefgen, Zsófia Bánfalvi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Citations (Scopus)


The amino acids that limit the nutritive value of potato are the sulfur containing amino acids methionine and cysteine. Manipulation of the targeted amino acid biosynthesis is a way to circumvent this problem. Cysteine is synthesised from O-acetyl-l-serine formed by serine acetyltransferase (SAT). To increase the cysteine content of the commercial potato cultivar White Lady the chimeric SAT-coding cysE gene from Escherichia coli under the control of the constitutive CaMV 35S promoter and fused to the chloroplast targeting rbcS 5′-transit peptide sequence was introduced into the White Lady genome. Novelty of the approach was the application of marker-free transformation. Two transgenic lines were obtained that accumulated the cysE mRNA in high amounts. Crude leaf extracts of these plants exhibited up to 80- and 20-fold higher SAT activity in leaves and tubers, respectively, than those prepared from non-transformed plants. Levels of cysteine and glutathione both in leaves and tubers were 1.5-fold higher in average than in control plants. The alterations observed had no effect on tuber yield and sprouting behaviour. Gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry showed that all other amino acids than cysteine were unaffected. Here we demonstrate for the first time that the cysteine content of tubers can be enhanced by metabolic engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-343
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biotechnology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2007



  • Cysteine
  • Glutathione
  • Metabolite analysis
  • Serine acetyltransferase
  • Solanum tuberosum
  • Transgenic plants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

Cite this