Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Silence Genes to Produce Hypoallergenic Carrots

October 8, 2010

Pathogens and abiotic stress could stimulate the production of a plant protein called pathogenesis-related protein-10 (PR10). This protein elevates the allergenic potency of numerous fruits and vegetables, such as carrots. Two similar genes (Dau 1.01 and Dau c 1.02) were found in carrots that code for PR10 forms. Susana Peters of Justus Liebig University, Germany, and colleagues conducted a study with the objective of producing hypoallergenic carrots by silencing either Dau 1.01 or Dau c 1.02 in transgenic carrots through RNA interference (RNAi).

Through quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and immunoblotting, the presence of the genes and the protein was documented. Results showed that PR10 accumulation was highly reduced in the transgenic plants, compared with the untransformed samples. Both the transgenic and wild-type plants were treated with salicylic acid, a chemical that induces PR10. An accumulation of PR10 was observed in the wild-type carrots, but not in the transgenic plants. The decrease of the allergenic potency in Dau c1-silenced plants was enough to cause a reduced allergic reaction of patients with carrot allergy, verified by skin prick test. This study demonstrated the possibility of producing low-allergenic food through RNAi, and the scientists recommend for simultaneous silencing of multiple allergens to come up with hypoallergenic carrots for consumers.

Read more about this study at http://www.springerlink.com/content/5192893147177l34/fulltext.html.