Biotech Updates

Potential Pharmaceuticals Derived from Rice Endosperm

April 30, 2014

Antimicrobial peptides (AMP) such as Cecropin A, are evolutionarily conserved components of the immune system of most living organisms. They are natural antibiotics that exhibit rapid, potent and long-lasting activity against a broad spectrum of pathogens. Recently, they emerged as valuable agents for crop protection, food preservation and pharmaceuticals for both humans and animals. The high cost of synthesis as well as the low yield obtained via purification from natural sources, however, has limited the progress of AMP utilization. Plants are promising systems for AMP but little attention has been paid to the idea.

The study evaluated a system for producing bioactive Cecropin A in rice seeds was tested. Transgenic rice plants expressing a codon-optimized synthetic cecropin A gene were generated and showed stable transgene integration and inheritance. Cecropin A accumulates in protein storage bodies in the rice endosperm. Cecropin A in transgenic rice seeds did not affect seed viability or seedling growth and the seeds exhibited resistance to infection by fungal (Fusarium verticillioides) and bacterial pathogens (Dickeya dadantii), indicating that the Cecropin A is biologically active.

Rice seeds can sustain bioactive Cecropin A production and accumulation in protein bodies. The system might benefit the production of this antimicrobial agent for subsequent applications in crop protection and food preservation.

Learn More: