Increasing seed oil content in oil-seed rape (Brassica napus L.) by over-expression of a yeast glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase under the control of a seed-specific promoter.Plant Biotechnol J. 2007 May; 5(3):431-41.PB
Previous attempts to manipulate oil synthesis in plants have mainly concentrated on the genes involved in the biosynthesis and use of fatty acids, neglecting the possible role of glycerol-3-phosphate supply on the rate of triacylglycerol synthesis. In this study, a yeast gene coding for cytosolic glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (gpd1) was expressed in transgenic oil-seed rape under the control of the seed-specific napin promoter. It was found that a twofold increase in glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase activity led to a three- to fourfold increase in the level of glycerol-3-phosphate in developing seeds, resulting in a 40% increase in the final lipid content of the seed, with the protein content remaining substantially unchanged. This was accompanied by a decrease in the glycolytic intermediate dihydroxyacetone phosphate, the direct precursor of glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase. The levels of sucrose and various metabolites in the pathway from sucrose to fatty acids remained unaltered. The results show that glycerol-3-phosphate supply co-limits oil accumulation in developing seeds. This has important implications for strategies that aim to increase the overall level of oil in commercial oil-seed crops for use as a renewable alternative to petrol.