Transgenic manipulation of a single polyamine in poplar cells affects the accumulation of all amino acids
The polyamine metabolic pathway is intricately connected to metabolism of several amino acids. While ornithine and arginine are direct precursors of putrescine, they themselves are synthesized from glutamate in multiple steps involving several enzymes. Additionally, glutamate is an amino group donor for several other amino acids and acts as a substrate for biosynthesis of proline and gamma-aminobutyric acid, metabolites that play important roles in plant development and stress response. Suspension cultures of poplar (Populus nigra x maximowiczii), transformed with a constitutively expressing mouse ornithine decarboxylase gene, were used to study the effect of up-regulation of putrescine biosynthesis (and concomitantly its enhanced catabolism) on cellular contents of various protein and non-protein amino acids. It was observed that up-regulation of putrescine metabolism affected the steady state concentrations of most amino acids in the cells. While there was a decrease in the cellular contents of glutamine, glutamate, ornithine, arginine, histidine, serine, glycine, cysteine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, aspartate, lysine, leucine and methionine, an increase was seen in the contents of alanine, threonine, valine, isoleucine and gamma-aminobutyric acid. An overall increase in percent cellular nitrogen and carbon content was also observed in high putrescine metabolizing cells compared to control cells. It is concluded that genetic manipulation of putrescine biosynthesis affecting ornithine consumption caused a major change in the entire ornithine biosynthetic pathway and had pleiotropic effects on other amino acids and total cellular carbon and nitrogen, as well. We suggest that ornithine plays a key role in regulating this pathway.