Improved fruit α-tocopherol, carotenoid, squalene and phytosterol contents through manipulation of Brassica juncea 3-HYDROXY-3-METHYLGLUTARYL-COA SYNTHASE1 in transgenic tomato.Plant Biotechnol J. 2018 03; 16(3):784-796.PB
3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A synthase (HMGS) in the mevalonate (MVA) pathway generates isoprenoids including phytosterols. Dietary phytosterols are important because they can lower blood cholesterol levels. Previously, the overexpression of Brassica juncea wild-type (wt) and mutant (S359A) BjHMGS1 in Arabidopsis up-regulated several genes in sterol biosynthesis and increased sterol content. Recombinant S359A had earlier displayed a 10-fold higher in vitro enzyme activity. Furthermore, tobacco HMGS overexpressors (OEs) exhibited improved sterol content, plant growth and seed yield. Increased growth and seed yield in tobacco OE-S359A over OE-wtBjHMGS1 coincided with elevations in NtSQS expression and sterol content. Herein, the overexpression of wt and mutant (S359A) BjHMGS1 in a crop plant, tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), caused an accumulation of MVA-derived squalene and phytosterols, as well as methylerythritol phosphate (MEP)-derived α-tocopherol (vitamin E) and carotenoids, which are important to human health as antioxidants. In tomato HMGS-OE seedlings, genes associated with the biosyntheses of C10, C15 and C20 universal precursors of isoprenoids, phytosterols, brassinosteroids, dolichols, methylerythritol phosphate, carotenoid and vitamin E were up-regulated. In OE-S359A tomato fruits, increased squalene and phytosterol contents over OE-wtBjHMGS1 were attributed to heightened SlHMGR2, SlFPS1, SlSQS and SlCYP710A11 expression. In both tomato OE-wtBjHMGS1 and OE-S359A fruits, the up-regulation of SlGPS and SlGGPPS1 in the MEP pathway that led to α-tocopherol and carotenoid accumulation indicated cross-talk between the MVA and MEP pathways. Taken together, the manipulation of BjHMGS1 represents a promising strategy to simultaneously elevate health-promoting squalene, phytosterols, α-tocopherol and carotenoids in tomato, an edible fruit.