Title:
PLANT GALACTINOL SYNTHASE HOMOLOGS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Isolated nucleic acid fragments encoding galactinol synthase are disclosed. Recombinant DNA construct(s) for use in altering expression of endogenous genes encoding galactinol synthase are also disclosed.



Inventors:
Stoop, Johan M. (Kennett Square, PA, US)
Allen, Stephen M. (Wilmington, DE, US)
Gaimi, Perry G. (Kennett Square, PA, US)
Application Number:
12/536516
Publication Date:
12/03/2009
Filing Date:
08/06/2009
Assignee:
E. I. DU PONT DE NEMOURS AND COMPANY (Wilmington, DE, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
435/69.1, 435/232, 435/243, 435/320.1, 435/419, 435/468, 435/471, 536/23.2, 800/278, 800/298
International Classes:
A01H5/00; A01H5/10; C07H21/00; C12N1/00; C12N5/04; C12N9/88; C12N15/63; C12N15/82; C12P21/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
PAGE, BRENT T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DUPONT SPECIALTY PRODUCTS USA, LLC (LEGAL PATENT RECORDS CENTER CHESTNUT RUN PLAZA 721/2340 974 CENTRE ROAD, P.O. BOX 2915, WILMINGTON, DE, 19805, US)
Claims:
1. An isolated polynucleotide comprising: (a) a nucleotide sequence encoding a polypeptide having galactinol synthase activity, wherein the polypeptide has an amino acid sequence of at least 85% identity, when compared to one of SEQ ID NO: 2 or 4 or 95% identity when compared to one of SEQ ID NO:6, based on the Clustal V method of alignment, (b) all or part of the isolated polynucleotide comprising (a) for use in co-suppression or antisense suppression of endogenous nucleic acid sequences encoding polypeptides having galactinol synthase activity, or (c) a complement of the nucleotide sequence of (a) or (b), wherein the complement and the nucleotide sequence consist of the same number of nucleotides and are 100% complementary. soybeans not containing the chimeric gene of step (a).

2. 2-21. (canceled)

22. A method for reducing the level of at least one raffinose saccharide in soybean comprising: (a) constructing a recombinant DNA construct comprising all or part of at least one isolated polynucleotide comprising a nucleotide sequence encoding a polypeptide having galactinol synthase activity for use in co-suppression or antisense suppression of endogenous nucleic acid sequences encoding polypeptides having galactinol synthase activity operably linked to at least one regulatory sequence; and (b) transforming a soybean cell with the recombinant DNA construct of (a); and (c) regenerating soybean plants from the transformed cells of step (c); and (d) screening seeds obtained from the plants of (c) for an altered level of galactinol synthase in the transformed soybean cell when compared to a corresponding nontransformed soybean cell.

23. The method of claim 22, wherein the total raffinose saccharide content in soybean seeds has been reduced by at least 27%.

24. The method of claim 22, wherein the total stachyose content in soybean seeds has been reduced by at least 36%.

25. The method of claim 22, wherein the total raffinose saccharide content in soybean seeds has been reduced by at least 71%.

Description:

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/581,851, filed Jun. 22, 2004, the entire content of which is herein incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention is in the field of plant molecular biology. More specifically, this invention pertains to isolated polynucleotides comprising nucleic acid fragments encoding galactinol synthase homologs in plants and seeds wherein all or part of such isolated polynucleotides can be used to down-regulate expression of endogenous genes encoding galactinol synthase.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Raffinose saccharides are a group of D-galactose-containing oligosaccharide derivatives of sucrose that are widely distributed in plants. Raffinose saccharides are characterized by the general formula: [O-β-D-galactopyranosyl-(1→6)n-α-glucopyranosyl-(1→2)-β-D-fructofuranoside where n=0 through n=4 are known respectively as sucrose, raffinose, stachyose, verbascose, and ajugose. A set of galactosyltransferases is involved in the biosynthesis of raffinose saccharides. Galactinol synthase (EC 2.4.1.123) catalyzes the synthesis of galactinol (O-α-D-gal-actopyranosyl-[1→1]-L-myo-inositol) from UDP-D-Gal and myo-inositol. Raffinose and stachyose are then synthesized by addition of Gal units from galactinol to sucrose and raffinose, respectively. These reversible reactions are mediated by raffinose synthase (EC 2.4.1.82) and stachyose synthase (EC 2.4.1.67). Transfer of a further Gal residue from galactinol to stachyose gives verbascose.

Extensive botanical surveys of the occurrence of raffinose saccharides have been reported in the scientific literature [see Dey (1985) in Biochemistry of Storage Carbohydrates in Green Plants, P. M. Dey and R. A. Dixon, Eds. Academic Press, London, pp. 53-129]. Raffinose saccharides are thought to be second only to sucrose with respect to abundance among the nonstructural carbohydrates in the plant kingdom. In fact, raffinose saccharides may be ubiquitous, at least among higher plants. Raffinose saccharides accumulate in significant quantities in the edible portion of many economically significant crop species. Examples include soybean (Glycine max L. Merrill), sugar beet (Beta vulgaris), cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.), canola (Brassica sp.) and all of the major edible leguminous crops including beans (Phaseolus sp.), chick pea (Cicer arietinum), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), mung bean (Vigna radiata), peas (Pisum sativum), lentil (Lens culinaris) and lupine (Lupinus sp.).

Although abundant in many species, raffinose saccharides are an obstacle to the efficient utilization of some economically important crop species. Raffinose saccharides are not digested directly by animals, primarily because alpha-galactosidase is not present in the intestinal mucosa [Gitzelmann et al. (1965) Pediatrics 36:231-236; Rutloff et al. (1967) Nahrung 11:39-46]. However, microflora in the lower gut are readily able to ferment the raffinose saccharides resulting in an acidification of the gut and production of carbon dioxide, methane and hydrogen gases [Murphy et al. (1972) J. Agr. Food. Chem. 20:813-817; Cristofaro et al. (1974) in Sugars in Nutrition, H. L. Sipple and K. W. McNutt, Eds. Academic Press, New York, Chap. 20, 313-335; Reddy et al. (1980) J. Food Science 45:1161-1164]. The resulting flatulence can severely limit the use of leguminous plants in animal, particularly human, diets. It is unfortunate that the presence of raffinose saccharides restricts the use of legumes in human diets because many of these species are otherwise excellent sources of protein and soluble fiber. Varieties of edible beans free of raffinose saccharides would be more valuable for human diets and would more fully use the desirable nutritional qualities of edible leguminous plants.

The biosynthesis of raffinose saccharides has been well characterized [see Dey (1985) in Biochemistry of Storage Carbohydrates in Green Plants, P. M. Dey and R. A. Dixon, Eds. Academic Press, London, pp. 53-129]. The committed reaction of raffinose saccharide biosynthesis involves the synthesis of galactinol from UDP-galactose and myo-inositol. The enzyme that catalyzes this reaction is galactinol synthase (inositol 1-alpha-galactosyltransferase; EC 2.4.1.123). Synthesis of raffinose and higher homologues in the raffinose saccharide family from sucrose is thought to be catalyzed by distinct galactosyltransferases (for example, raffinose synthase and stachyose synthase). Studies in many species suggest that galactinol synthase is the key enzyme controlling the flux of reduced carbon into the biosynthesis of raffinose saccharides [Handley et al. (1983) J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 108:600-605; Saravitz, et al. (1987) Plant Physiol. 83:185-189].

Related galactinol synthase genes already known in the art include sequences disclosed in WO 01/77306 and in U.S. Pat. No. 5,648,210, Kerr et al. (the contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference), and Sprenger and Keller (2000) Plant J 21:249-258. Presumably related sequences are also disclosed in WO 98/50553.

There is a great deal of interest in identifying the genes that encode proteins involved in raffinose saccharides in plants. Specifically, the galactinol synthase gene may be used to alter galactinol synthesis and modulate the level of raffinose saccharides in plant cells. Accordingly, the availability of nucleic acid sequences encoding all or a portion of a galactinol synthase would facilitate studies to better understand raffinose synthesis in plants, and provide genetic tools to alter raffinose saccharide synthesis to enhance the nutritional qualities of many edible leguminous plants.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In a first embodiment, the invention concerns an isolated polynucleotide comprising:

    • (a) a nucleotide sequence encoding a polypeptide having galactinol synthase activity, wherein the polypeptide has an amino acid sequence of at least 85% identity, when compared to one of SEQ ID NO: 2 or 4 or 95% identity when compared to one of SEQ ID NO:6, based on the Clustal V method of alignment,
    • (b) all or part of the isolated polynucleotide comprising (a) for use in co-suppression or antisense suppression of endogenous nucleic acid sequences encoding polypeptides having galactinol synthase activity, or
    • (c) a complement of the nucleotide sequence of (a) or (b), wherein the complement and the nucleotide sequence consist of the same number of nucleotides and are 100% complementary.

In a second embodiment, the instant invention concerns a recombinant DNA construct comprising any of the isolated polynucleotides of the present invention operably linked to at least one regulatory sequence, and a cell, a plant, and a seed comprising the recombinant DNA construct.

In a third embodiment, the present invention includes a vector comprising any of the isolated polynucleotides of the present invention.

In a fourth embodiment, the present invention concerns a method for transforming a cell comprising transforming a cell with any of the isolated polynucleotides of the present invention. The cell transformed by this method is also included. Advantageously, the cell is eukaryotic, e.g., a yeast or plant cell, or prokaryotic, e.g., a bacterium.

In a fifth embodiment, the present invention includes a method for producing a transgenic plant comprising transforming a plant cell with any of the isolated polynucleotides of the present invention and regenerating a plant from the transformed plant cell. The invention is also directed to the transgenic plant produced by this method, and seed obtained from this transgenic plant.

In a sixth embodiment, the present invention concerns an isolated polypeptide having galactinol synthase activity, wherein the polypeptide has an amino acid sequence of at least 85%, 90%, or 95% identity, based on the Clustal V method of alignment, when compared to one of SEQ ID NO: 2 or 4 and wherein the polypeptide has an amino acid sequence of at least 95% identity, based on the Clustal V method of alignment, when compared to SEQ ID NO:6.

In a seventh embodiment, the present invention concerns a method for isolating a polypeptide having galactinol synthase activity comprising isolating the polypeptide from a cell or culture medium of the cell, wherein the cell comprises a recombinant DNA construct comprising a polynucleotide of the invention operably linked to at least one regulatory sequence.

In an eighth embodiment, this invention concerns a method for selecting a transformed cell comprising: (a) transforming a host cell with the recombinant DNA construct or an expression cassette of the present invention; and (b) growing the transformed host cell, preferably a plant cell, under conditions that allow expression of the galactinol synthase polynucleotide in an amount sufficient to complement a null mutant in order to provide a positive selection means.

In a ninth embodiment, this invention relates to a method of reducing the raffinose saccharide content of soybean seeds by at least 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 95% or 100% or any integer percentage in between 30% to 100%.

In a tenth embodiment, this invention relates to a method of reducing the total stachyose content by at least 36%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%; 95% or 100% or any integer percentage between 36% to 100%.

In another embodiment, this invention relates to a method of reducing the level of at least one raffinose saccharide in soybean.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS AND SEQUENCE LISTING

The invention can be more fully understood from the following detailed description and the accompanying drawings and Sequence Listing, which form a part of this application.

FIG. 1 shows a comparison of the amino acid sequence alignment between the galactinol synthase encoded by the nucleotide sequences derived from soybean clones sdp3c.pk013.c9:fis, srr3c.pk003.h12:fis and srr3c.pk001.i20:fis (SEQ ID NO:2, SEQ ID NO:4 and SEQ ID NO:6, respectively) and the galactinol synthase from Pisum sativum (NCBI GenBank Identifier (GI) No. 5541885; SEQ ID NO:7), Arabidopsis thaliana (NCBI GenBank Identifier (GI) No. 15223567; SEQ ID NO:8) and Glycine max (NCBI GenBank Identifier (GI) No. 32345694; SEQ ID NO:9). Amino acids which are conserved among all sequences are indicated with an asterisk (*) below the conserved residue. The program to maximize alignment of the sequences uses dashes.

FIG. 2 shows vector pJMS08.

FIG. 3 shows vector pJMS10.

FIG. 4 shows a typical carbohydrate profile of transgenic somatic embryos co-suppressing galactinol synthase.

FIG. 5 shows a typical carbohydrate profile of a wild type soybean somatic embryo.

FIG. 6 shows vector pG4G.

FIG. 7 shows vector SH50.

FIG. 8 shows a TLC analysis of somatic embryos containing the PM29 driven recombinant expression construct described in Example 11.

FIG. 9 shows a TLC analysis of mature soybean seeds containing the PM29 driven recombinant expression construct described in Example 11.

FIG. 10 shows the carbohydrate profiles of a mutant and a transgenic low raffinose saccharide soybean compared to wild type soybean.

FIG. 11 shows vector pKR57.

FIG. 12 shows vector pKR63.

FIG. 13 shows vector pDS1.

FIG. 14 shows vector pKR72.

FIG. 15 shows vector pDS2.

FIG. 16 shows vector pDS3 (orientation 2).

FIG. 17 shows vector SH60.

FIG. 18 shows a TLC analysis of somatic embryos containing the beta-conglycinin/KTI3 driven recombinant expression construct described in Example 13.

SEQ ID NO:1 is the 1151 bp sequence derived from clone sdp3c.pk013.c9 (FIS) of the soybean nucleotide sequence containing the ORF [nucleotides 71-1090 (Stop)] of the galactinol synthase 3 gene.

SEQ ID NO:2 is the 339 amino acid sequence encoded by the ORF [nucleotides 71-1090 (Stop)] of SEQ ID NO: 1 SEQ ID NO:3 is the 1398 bp sequence derived from clone srr3c.pk003.h12 (FIS) of the soybean nucleotide sequence containing the ORF [nucleotides 94-1089 (Stop)] of the galactinol synthase 4 gene.

SEQ ID NO:4 is the 331 amino acid sequence encoded by the ORF [nucleotides 94-1089 (Stop)] of SEQ ID NO: 3.

SEQ ID NO:5 is the 1417 bp sequence derived from clone srr3c.pk001.i20 (FIS) of the soybean nucleotide sequence containing the ORF [nucleotides 213-1187 (Stop)] of the galactinol synthase 5 gene.

SEQ ID NO:6 is the 324 amino acid sequence encoded by the ORF [nucleotides 213-1187 (Stop)] of SEQ ID NO: 5

SEQ ID NO:7 is the amino acid sequence of the galactinol synthase from Pisum sativum (NCBI GenBank Identifier (GI) No. 5541885).

SEQ ID NO:8 is the amino acid sequence of the galactinol synthase from Arabidopsis thaliana (NCBI GenBank Identifier (GI) No. 15223567).

SEQ ID NO:9 is the amino acid sequence of the galactinol synthase from Glycine max (NCBI GenBank Identifier (GI) No. 32345694).

SEQ ID NO:10 represents the 1406 bp of the soybean nucleotide sequence of the galactinol synthase 1 gene.

SEQ ID NO:11 represents the 1350 bp of the soybean nucleotide sequence galactinol synthase 2 gene.

SEQ ID NO:12 is the forward primer used to amplify part of galactinol synthase 1 as described in Example 6.

SEQ ID NO:13 is the reverse primer used to amplify part of galactinol synthase 1 as described in Example 6.

SEQ ID NO:14 is the 519 bp sequence amplified from the galactinol synthase 1 gene (SEQ ID NO:10) as described in Example 6.

SEQ ID NO:15 is the forward primer used to amplify part of galactinol synthase 2 as described in Example 6.

SEQ ID NO:16 is the reverse primer used to amplify part of galactinol synthase 2 as described in Example 6.

SEQ ID NO:17 is the 519 bp sequence amplified from the galactinol synthase 2 gene (SEQ ID NO:11) as described in Example 6.

SEQ ID NO:18 is the forward primer used to amplify part of galactinol synthase 3 as described in Example 6.

SEQ ID NO:19 is the reverse primer used to amplify part of galactinol synthase 3 as described in Example 6.

SEQ ID NO:20 is the 519 bp sequence amplified from the galactinol synthase 3 gene (SEQ ID NO:1) as described in Example 6.

SEQ ID NO:21 is the forward primer used to isolate and amplify the soybean PM29 promoter as described in Example 10.

SEQ ID NO:22 is the reverse primer used to isolate and amplify the soybean PM29 promoter as described in Example 10.

SEQ ID NO:23 is the 597 bp sequence of the soybean PM29 promoter.

SEQ ID NO:24 is the forward primer used to re-amplify the PM29 promoter as described in Example 11.

SEQ ID NO:25 is the reverse primer used to re-amplify the PM29 promoter as described in Example 11.

SEQ ID NO:26 is the sequence of two copies of the Eag1-ELVISLIVES sequence as described in Example 11.

SEQ ID NO:27 represents the sequence of the complementary strand of SEQ ID NO: 26.

SEQ ID NO:28 represents the sequence of a truncated version of the two copies of the ELVISLIVES (ELEL) linker.

SEQ ID NO:29 is the 8810 bp sequence of vector SH50.

SEQ ID NO:30 is the 4479 bp sequence of vector pKR57.

SEQ ID NO:31 is the 5010 bp sequence of vector pKR63.

SEQ ID NO:32 is the 5414 bp sequence of v pDS1.

SEQ ID NO:33 is the 7085 bp sequence of vector pKR72.

SEQ ID NO:34 is the 5303 bp sequence of vector pDS2.

SEQ ID NO:35 is the 8031 bp sequence of vector pDS3 (orientation 2).

SEQ ID NO:36 is the 9616 bp sequence of vector SH60.

SEQ ID NO:37 is the 1585 bp sequence of the Not1 fragment of vector pJMS10 (FIG. 3) described in Example 13.

The sequence descriptions and Sequence Listing attached hereto comply with the rules governing nucleotide and/or amino acid sequence disclosures in patent applications as set forth in 37 C.F.R. §1.821-1.825.

The Sequence Listing contains the one letter code for nucleotide sequence characters and the three letter codes for amino acids as defined in conformity with the IUPAC-IUBMB standards described in Nucleic Acids Res. 13:3021-3030 (1985) and in the Biochemical J. 219 (No. 2):345-373 (1984) which are herein incorporated by reference.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In the context of this disclosure, a number of terms shall be utilized. The terms “polynucleotide,” “polynucleotide sequence,” “nucleic acid sequence,” and “nucleic acid fragment”/“isolated nucleic acid fragment” are used interchangeably herein. These terms encompass nucleotide sequences and the like. A polynucleotide may be a polymer of RNA or DNA that is single- or double-stranded, that optionally contains synthetic, non-natural or altered nucleotide bases. A polynucleotide in the form of a polymer of DNA may be comprised of one or more segments of cDNA, genomic DNA, synthetic DNA, or mixtures thereof. An isolated polynucleotide of the present invention may include at least 30 contiguous nucleotides, preferably at least 40 contiguous nucleotides, most preferably at least 60 contiguous nucleotides derived from SEQ ID NOs:1 or 3 or 5, or the complement of such sequences.

The term “isolated” refers to materials, such as nucleic acid molecules and/or proteins, which are substantially free or otherwise removed from components that normally accompany or interact with the materials in a naturally occurring environment. Isolated polynucleotides may be purified from a host cell in which they naturally occur. Conventional nucleic acid purification methods known to skilled artisans may be used to obtain isolated polynucleotides. The term also embraces recombinant polynucleotides and chemically synthesized polynucleotides.

The term “recombinant” means, for example, that a nucleic acid sequence is made by an artificial combination of two otherwise separated segments of sequence, e.g., by chemical synthesis or by the manipulation of isolated nucleic acids by genetic engineering techniques.

A “recombinant DNA construct” comprises any of the isolated polynucleotides of the present invention operably linked to at least one regulatory sequence.

As used herein, “substantially similar” refers to nucleic acid fragments wherein changes in one or more nucleotide bases results in substitution of one or more amino acids, but do not affect the functional properties of the polypeptide encoded by the nucleotide sequence. “Substantially similar” also refers to nucleic acid fragments wherein changes in one or more nucleotide bases does not affect the ability of the nucleic acid fragment to mediate alteration of gene expression by gene silencing through for example antisense or co-suppression technology. “Substantially similar” also refers to modifications of the nucleic acid fragments of the instant invention such as deletion or insertion of one or more nucleotides that do not substantially affect the functional properties of the resulting transcript vis-à-vis the ability to mediate gene silencing or alteration of the functional properties of the resulting protein molecule. It is therefore understood that the invention encompasses more than the specific exemplary nucleotide or amino acid sequences and includes functional equivalents thereof. The terms “substantially similar” and “corresponding substantially” are used interchangeably herein.

“Sequence identity” or “identity” in the context of nucleic acid or polypeptide sequences refers to the nucleic acid bases or amino acid residues in the two sequences that are the same when aligned for maximum correspondence over a specified comparison window.

Thus, “Percentage of sequence identity” refers to the valued determined by comparing two optimally aligned sequences over a comparison window, wherein the portion of the polynucleotide sequence in the comparison window may comprise additions or deletions (i.e., gaps) as compared to the reference sequence (which does not comprise additions or deletions) for optimal alignment of the two sequences. The percentage is calculated by determining the number of positions at which the identical nucleic acid base or amino acid residue occurs in both sequences to yield the number of matched positions, dividing the number of matched positions by the total number of positions in the window of comparison and multiplying the results by 100 to yield the percentage of sequence identity. Useful examples of percent sequence identities include, but are not limited to, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, or 95%, or any integer percentage from 55% to 100%. These identities can be determined using any of the programs described herein.

The “Clustal V method of alignment” corresponds to the alignment method labeled Clustal V (described by Higgins and Sharp (1989) CABIOS. 5: 151-153) and found in the Megalign program of the LASERGENE bioinformatics computing suite (DNASTAR Inc., Madison, Wis.). The “default parameters” are the parameters preset by the manufacturer of the program and for multiple alignments they correspond to GAP PENALTY=10 and GAP LENGTH PENALTY=10, while for pairwise alignments they are KTUPLE 1, GAP PENALTY=3, WINDOW=5 and DIAGONALS SAVED=5. After alignment of the sequences, using the Clustal V program, it is possible to obtain a “percent identity” by viewing the “sequence distances” table in the same program.

Substantially similar nucleic acid fragments may be selected by screening nucleic acid fragments representing subfragments or modifications of the nucleic acid fragments of the instant invention, wherein one or more nucleotides are substituted, deleted and/or inserted, for their ability to affect the level of the polypeptide encoded by the unmodified nucleic acid fragment in a plant or plant cell. For example, a substantially similar nucleic acid fragment representing at least 30 contiguous nucleotides, preferably at least 40 contiguous nucleotides, most preferably at least 60 contiguous nucleotides derived from the instant nucleic acid fragment can be constructed and introduced into a plant or plant cell. The level of the polypeptide encoded by the unmodified nucleic acid fragment present in a plant or plant cell exposed to the substantially similar nucleic fragment can then be compared to the level of the polypeptide in a plant or plant cell that is not exposed to the substantially similar nucleic acid fragment.

For example, it is well known in the art that antisense suppression and co-suppression of gene expression may be accomplished using nucleic acid fragments representing less than the entire coding region of a gene, and by using nucleic acid fragments that do not share 100% sequence identity with the gene to be suppressed. Moreover, alterations in a nucleic acid fragment, which result in the production of a chemically equivalent amino acid at a given site, but do not affect the functional properties of the encoded polypeptide, are well known in the art. Thus, a codon for the amino acid alanine, a hydrophobic amino acid, may be substituted by a codon encoding another less hydrophobic residue, such as glycine, or a more hydrophobic residue, such as valine, leucine, or isoleucine. Similarly, changes which result in substitution of one negatively charged residue for another, such as aspartic acid for glutamic acid, or one positively charged residue for another, such as lysine for arginine, can also be expected to produce a functionally equivalent product. Nucleotide changes which result in alteration of the N-terminal and C-terminal portions of the polypeptide molecule would also not be expected to alter the activity of the polypeptide. Each of the proposed modifications is well within the routine skill in the art, as is determination of retention of biological activity of the encoded products. Consequently, an isolated polynucleotide comprising a nucleotide sequence of at least 30 (preferably at least 40, most preferably at least 60) contiguous nucleotides derived from a nucleotide sequence of SEQ ID NOs:1, 3 or 5 and the complement of such nucleotide sequences may be used to affect the expression and/or function of a galactinol synthase in a host cell. A method of using an isolated polynucleotide to affect the level of expression of a polynucleotide in a host cell (eukaryotic, such as plant or yeast, prokaryotic such as bacterial) may comprise the steps of: constructing an isolated polynucleotide of the present invention or an isolated recombinant DNA construct of the present invention; introducing the isolated polynucleotide or the isolated recombinant DNA construct into a host cell; measuring the level of a polypeptide or enzyme activity in the host cell containing the isolated polynucleotide; and comparing the level of a polypeptide or enzyme activity in the host cell containing the isolated polynucleotide with the level of a polypeptide or enzyme activity in a host cell that does not contain isolated polynucleotide.

Moreover, substantially similar nucleic acid fragments may also be characterized by their ability to hybridize. Estimates of such homology are provided by either DNA-DNA or DNA-RNA hybridization under conditions of stringency as is well understood by those skilled in the art (Hames and Higgins, Eds. (1985) Nucleic Acid Hybridization, IRL Press, Oxford, U.K.). Stringency conditions can be adjusted to screen for moderately similar fragments, such as homologous sequences from distantly related organisms, to highly similar fragments, such as genes that duplicate functional enzymes from closely related organisms. Post-hybridization washes determine stringency conditions. One set of preferred conditions uses a series of washes starting with 6×SSC, 0.5% SDS at room temperature for 15 min, then repeated with 2×SSC, 0.5% SDS at 45° C. for 30 min, and then repeated twice with 0.2×SSC, 0.5% SDS at 50° C. for 30 min. A more preferred set of stringent conditions uses higher temperatures in which the washes are identical to those above except for the temperature of the final two 30 min washes in 0.2×SSC, 0.5% SDS was increased to 60° C. Another preferred set of highly stringent conditions uses two final washes in 0.1×SSC, 0.1% SDS at 65° C.

Substantially similar nucleic acid fragments of the instant invention may also be characterized by the percent identity of the amino acid sequences that they encode to the amino acid sequences disclosed herein, as determined by algorithms commonly employed by those skilled in this art. Suitable nucleic acid fragments (isolated polynucleotides of the present invention) encode polypeptides that are at least about 85% identical to the amino acid sequences reported herein. More preferred nucleic acid fragments encode amino acid sequences that are at least about 90% identical to the amino acid sequences reported herein. Most preferred are nucleic acid fragments that encode amino acid sequences that are at least about 95% identical to the amino acid sequences reported herein. Suitable nucleic acid fragments not only have the above identities but typically encode a polypeptide having at least 50 amino acids, preferably at least 100 amino acids, more preferably at least 150 amino acids, still more preferably at least 200 amino acids, and most preferably at least 250 amino acids.

It is well understood by one skilled in the art that many levels of sequence identity are useful in identifying related polypeptide sequences. Useful examples of percent identities are 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, or 95%, or any integer percentage from 55% to 100%. Sequence alignments and percent identity calculations were performed using the Megalign program of the LASERGENE bioinformatics computing suite (DNASTAR Inc., Madison, Wis.). Multiple alignment of the sequences was performed using the Clustal method of alignment (Higgins and Sharp (1989) CABIOS. 5:151-153) with the default parameters (GAP PENALTY=10, GAP LENGTH PENALTY=10). Default parameters for pairwise alignments using the Clustal method were KTUPLE 1, GAP PENALTY=3, WINDOW=5 and DIAGONALS SAVED=5.

A “substantial portion” of an amino acid or nucleotide sequence comprises an amino acid or a nucleotide sequence that is sufficient to afford putative identification of the protein or gene that the amino acid or nucleotide sequence comprises. Amino acid and nucleotide sequences can be evaluated either manually by one skilled in the art, or by using computer-based sequence comparison and identification tools that employ algorithms such as BLAST (Basic Local Alignment Search Tool; Altschul et al. (1993) J. Mol. Biol. 215:403-410; see also the explanation of the BLAST algorithm on the world wide web site for the National Center for Biotechnology Information at the National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health). In general, a sequence of ten or more contiguous amino acids or thirty or more contiguous nucleotides is necessary in order to putatively identify a polypeptide or nucleic acid sequence as homologous to a known protein or gene. Moreover, with respect to nucleotide sequences, gene-specific oligonucleotide probes comprising 30 or more contiguous nucleotides may be used in sequence-dependent methods of gene identification (e.g., Southern hybridization) and isolation (e.g., in situ hybridization of bacterial colonies or bacteriophage plaques). In addition, short oligonucleotides of 12 or more nucleotides may be used as amplification primers in PCR in order to obtain a particular nucleic acid fragment comprising the primers. Accordingly, a “substantial portion” of a nucleotide sequence comprises a nucleotide sequence that will afford specific identification and/or isolation of a nucleic acid fragment comprising the sequence. The instant specification teaches amino acid and nucleotide sequences encoding polypeptides that comprise one or more particular plant proteins. The skilled artisan, having the benefit of the sequences as reported herein, may now use all or a substantial portion of the disclosed sequences for purposes known to those skilled in this art. Accordingly, the instant invention comprises the complete sequences as reported in the accompanying Sequence Listing, as well as substantial portions of those sequences as defined above.

“Codon degeneracy” refers to divergence in the genetic code permitting variation of the nucleotide sequence without effecting the amino acid sequence of an encoded polypeptide. Accordingly, the instant invention relates to any nucleic acid fragment comprising a nucleotide sequence that encodes all or a substantial portion of the amino acid sequences set forth herein. The skilled artisan is well aware of the “codon-bias” exhibited by a specific host cell in usage of nucleotide codons to specify a given amino acid. Therefore, when synthesizing a nucleic acid fragment for improved expression in a host cell, it is desirable to design the nucleic acid fragment such that its frequency of codon usage approaches the frequency of preferred codon usage of the host cell.

“Synthetic nucleic acid fragments” can be assembled from oligonucleotide building blocks that are chemically synthesized using procedures known to those skilled in the art. These building blocks are ligated and annealed to form larger nucleic acid fragments which may then be enzymatically assembled to construct the entire desired nucleic acid fragment. “Chemically synthesized”, as related to a nucleic acid fragment, means that the component nucleotides were assembled in vitro. Manual chemical synthesis of nucleic acid fragments may be accomplished using well-established procedures, or automated chemical synthesis can be performed using one of a number of commercially available machines. Accordingly, the nucleic acid fragments can be tailored for optimal gene expression based on optimization of the nucleotide sequence to reflect the codon bias of the host cell. The skilled artisan appreciates the likelihood of successful gene expression if codon usage is biased towards those codons favored by the host. Determination of preferred codons can be based on a survey of genes derived from the host cell where sequence information is available.

“Gene” refers to a nucleic acid fragment that expresses a specific protein, including regulatory sequences preceding (5′ non-coding sequences) and following (3′ non-coding sequences) the coding sequence. “Native gene” refers to a gene as found in nature with its own regulatory sequences. “Recombinant DNA construct” refers to any gene that is not a native gene, comprising regulatory and coding sequences that are not found together in nature. Accordingly, a recombinant DNA construct may comprise regulatory sequences and coding sequences that are derived from different sources, or regulatory sequences and coding sequences derived from the same source, but arranged in a manner different than that found in nature. “Endogenous gene” refers to a native gene in its natural location in the genome of an organism. A “foreign-gene” refers to a gene not normally found in the host organism, but that is introduced into the host organism by gene transfer. Foreign genes can comprise native genes inserted into a non-native organism, recombinant DNA constructs, or recombinant DNA constructs. A “transgene” is an isolated nucleic acid fragment or recombinant DNA construct that has been introduced into the genome by a transformation procedure.

“Coding sequence” refers to a nucleotide sequence that codes for a specific amino acid sequence. “Regulatory sequences” refer to nucleotide sequences located upstream (5′ non-coding sequences), within, or downstream (3′ non-coding sequences) of a coding sequence, and which influence the transcription, RNA processing or stability, or translation of the associated coding sequence. Regulatory sequences may include promoters, translation leader sequences, introns, and polyadenylation recognition sequences.

“Promoter” refers to a nucleotide sequence capable of controlling the expression of a coding sequence or functional RNA. In general, a coding sequence is located 3′ to a promoter sequence. The promoter sequence consists of proximal and more distal upstream elements, the latter elements often referred to as enhancers. Accordingly, an “enhancer” is a nucleotide sequence, which can stimulate promoter activity and may be an innate element of the promoter or a heterologous element inserted to enhance the level or tissue-specificity of a promoter. Promoters may be derived in their entirety from a native gene, or may be composed of different elements derived from different promoters found in nature, or may even comprise synthetic nucleotide segments. It is understood by those skilled in the art that different promoters may direct the expression of a gene in different tissues or cell types, or at different stages of development, or in response to different environmental conditions. Promoters which cause a nucleic acid fragment to be expressed in most cell types at most times are commonly referred to as “constitutive promoters”. New promoters of various types useful in plant cells are constantly being discovered; numerous examples may be found in the compilation by Okamuro and Goldberg (1989) Biochemistry of Plants 15:1-82. It is further recognized that since in most cases the exact boundaries of regulatory sequences have not been completely defined, nucleic acid fragments of different lengths may have identical promoter activity.

“Convergent promoters” refers to promoters that are situated on either side of the isolated nucleic acid fragment of interest such that the direction of transcription from each promoter is opposing each other. Any promoter useful in plant transgene expression can be used. The promoters can be the same or different. The promoters are convergent with the isolated nucleic acid fragment being situated between the convergent promoters. It is important that the promoters have similar spatial and temporal activity, i.e., similar spatial and temporal patterns of expression, so that double-stranded RNA is produced in plants or plant organs by the recombinant construct that is stably integrated into the genome of the plant or plant organ. This has been described in U.S. provisional application 60/578,404, filed Jun. 9, 2004 which is filed simultaneously herewith. Also, this is described in U.S. provisional application 60/625,835, filed Nov. 8, 2004.

“Translation leader sequence” refers to a nucleotide sequence located between the promoter sequence of a gene and the coding sequence. The translation leader sequence is present in the fully processed mRNA upstream of the translation start sequence. The translation leader sequence may affect processing of the primary transcript to mRNA, mRNA stability or translation efficiency. Examples of translation leader sequences have been described (Turner and Foster (1995) Mol. Biotechnol. 3:225-236).

“3′ non-coding sequences” refer to nucleotide sequences located downstream of a coding sequence and include polyadenylation recognition sequences and other sequences encoding regulatory signals capable of affecting mRNA processing or gene expression. The polyadenylation signal is usually characterized by affecting the addition of polyadenylic acid tracts to the 3′ end of the mRNA precursor. The use of different 3′ non-coding sequences is exemplified by Ingelbrecht et al. (1989) Plant Cell 1:671-680.

“RNA transcript” refers to the product resulting from RNA polymerase-catalyzed transcription of a DNA sequence. When the RNA transcript is a perfect complementary copy of the DNA sequence, it is referred to as the primary transcript or it may be a RNA sequence derived from posttranscriptional processing of the primary transcript and is referred to as the mature RNA. “Messenger RNA (mRNA)” refers to the RNA that is without introns and that can be translated into polypeptides by the cell. “cDNA” refers to DNA that is complementary to and derived from an mRNA template. The cDNA can be single-stranded or converted to double stranded form using, for example, the Klenow fragment of DNA polymerase 1. “Sense-RNA” refers to an RNA transcript that includes the mRNA and so can be translated into a polypeptide by the cell. “Antisense RNA” refers to an RNA transcript that is complementary to all or part of a target primary transcript or mRNA and that blocks the expression of a target gene (see U.S. Pat. No. 5,107,065, incorporated herein by reference). The complementarity of an antisense RNA may be with any part of the specific nucleotide sequence, i.e., at the 5′ non-coding sequence, 3′ non-coding sequence, introns, or the coding sequence. “Functional RNA” refers to sense RNA, antisense RNA, ribozyme RNA, or other RNA that may not be translated but yet has an effect on cellular processes.

Cosuppression technology constitutes the subject matter of U.S. Pat. No. 5,231,020, which issued to Jorgensen et al. on Jul. 27, 1999. The phenomenon observed by Napoli et al. in petunia was referred to as “cosuppression” since expression of both the endogenous gene and the introduced transgene were suppressed (for reviews see Vaucheret et al., Plant J. 16:651-659 (1998); and Gura, Nature 404:804-808 (2000)).

Co-suppression constructs in plants previously have been designed by focusing on overexpression of a nucleic acid sequence having homology to an endogenous mRNA, in the sense orientation, which results in the reduction of all RNA having homology to the overexpressed sequence (see Vaucheret et al. (1998) Plant J 16:651-659; and Gura (2000) Nature 404:804-808). The overall efficiency of this phenomenon is low, and the extent of the RNA reduction is widely variable. Recent work has described the use of “hairpin” structures that incorporate all, or part, of an mRNA encoding sequence in a complementary orientation that results in a potential “stem-loop” structure for the expressed RNA (PCT Publication WO 99/53050 published on Oct. 21, 1999). This increases the frequency of co-suppression in the recovered transgenic plants. Another variation describes the use of plant viral sequences to direct the suppression, or “silencing”, of proximal mRNA encoding sequences (PCT Publication WO 98/36083 published on Aug. 20, 1998). Both of these co-suppressing phenomena have not been elucidated mechanistically, although recent genetic evidence has begun to unravel this complex situation (Elmayan et al. (1998) Plant Cell 10:1747-1757).

In addition to cosuppression, antisense technology has also been used to block the function of specific genes in cells. Antisense RNA is complementary to the normally expressed RNA, and presumably inhibits gene expression by interacting with the normal RNA strand. The mechanisms by which the expression of a specific gene are inhibited by either antisense or sense RNA are on their way to being understood. However, the frequencies of obtaining the desired phenotype in a transgenic plant may vary with the design of the construct, the gene, the strength and specificity of its promoter, the method of transformation and the complexity of transgene insertion events (Baulcombe, Curr. Biol. 12(3):R82-84 (2002); Tang et al., Genes Dev. 17(1):49-63 (2003); Yu et al., Plant Cell. Rep. 22(3):167-174 (2003)). Cosuppression and antisense inhibition are also referred to as “gene silencing”, “post-transcriptional gene silencing” (PTGS), RNA interference or RNAi. See for example U.S. Pat. No. 6,506,559.

MicroRNAs (miRNA) are small regulatory RNSs that control gene expression. miRNAs bind to regions of target RNAs and inhibit their translation and, thus, interfere with production of the polypeptide encoded by the target RNA. miRNAs can be designed to be complementary to any region of the target sequence RNA including the 3′ untranslated region, coding region, etc. miRNAs are processed from highly structured RNA precursors that are processed by the action of a ribonuclease III termed DICER. While the exact mechanism of action of miRNAs is unknown, it appears that they function to regulate expression of the target gene. See, e.g., U.S. Patent Publication No. 2004/0268441 Al which was published on Dec. 30, 2004.

The term “operably linked” refers to the association of two or more nucleic acid fragments on a single polynucleotide so that the function of one is affected by the other. For example, a promoter is operably linked with a coding sequence when it is capable of affecting the expression of that coding sequence (i.e., that the coding sequence is under the transcriptional control of the promoter). Coding sequences can be operably linked to regulatory sequences in sense or antisense orientation.

The term “expression”, as used herein, refers to the transcription and stable accumulation of sense (mRNA) or antisense RNA derived from the nucleic acid fragment of the invention. Expression may also refer to translation of mRNA into a polypeptide. “Antisense inhibition” refers to the production of antisense RNA transcripts capable of suppressing the expression of the target protein. “Overexpression” refers to the production of a gene product in transgenic organisms that exceeds levels of production in normal or non-transformed organisms. “Co-suppression” refers to the production of sense RNA transcripts capable of suppressing the expression of identical or substantially similar foreign or endogenous genes (U.S. Pat. No. 5,231,020, incorporated herein by reference).

A “protein” or “polypeptide” is a chain of amino acids arranged in a specific order determined by the coding sequence in a polynucleotide encoding the polypeptide. Each protein or polypeptide has a unique function.

“Altered levels” or “altered expression” refers to the production of gene product(s) in transgenic organisms in amounts or proportions that differ from that of normal or non-transformed organisms.

“Mature protein” or the term “mature” when used in describing a protein refers to a post-translationally processed polypeptide; i.e., one from which any pre- or pro-peptides present in the primary translation product have been removed. “Precursor protein” or the term “precursor” when used in describing a protein refers to the primary product of translation of mRNA; i.e., with pre- and pro-peptides still present. Pre- and pro-peptides may be but are not limited to intracellular localization signals.

“Transformation” refers to the transfer of a nucleic acid fragment into the genome of a host organism, resulting in genetically stable inheritance. Host organisms containing the transformed nucleic acid fragments are referred to as “transgenic” organisms. Examples of methods of plant transformation include Agrobacterium-mediated transformation (De Blaere et al. (1987) Meth. Enzymol. 143:277) and particle-accelerated or “gene gun” transformation technology (Klein et al. (1987) Nature (London) 327:70-73; U.S. Pat. No. 4,945,050, incorporated herein by reference). Thus, isolated polynucleotides of the present invention can be incorporated into recombinant constructs, typically DNA constructs, capable of introduction into and replication in a host cell. Such a construct can be a vector that includes a replication system and sequences that are capable of transcription and translation of a polypeptide-encoding sequence in a given host cell. A number of vectors suitable for stable transfection of plant cells or for the establishment of transgenic plants have been described in, e.g., Pouwels et al., Cloning Vectors: A Laboratory Manual, 1985, supp. 1987; Weissbach and Weissbach, Methods for Plant Molecular Biology, Academic Press, 1989; and Flevin et al., Plant Molecular Biology Manual, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1990. Typically, plant expression vectors include, for example, one or more cloned plant genes under the transcriptional control of 5′ and 3′ regulatory sequences and a dominant selectable marker. Such plant expression vectors also can contain a promoter regulatory region (e.g., a regulatory region controlling inducible or constitutive, environmentally- or developmentally-regulated, or cell- or tissue-specific expression), a transcription initiation start site, a ribosome binding site, an RNA processing signal, a transcription termination site, and/or a polyadenylation signal.

“Stable transformation” refers to the transfer of a nucleic acid fragment into a genome of a host organism, including both nuclear and organellar genomes, resulting in genetically stable inheritance. The term “transformation” as used herein refers to both stable transformation and transient transformation.

The terms “recombinant construct”, “expression construct” and “recombinant expression construct” are used interchangeably herein. These terms refer to a functional unit of genetic material that can be inserted into the genome of a cell using standard methodology well known to one skilled in the art.

The term “vector” refers to a vehicle used for gene cloning to insert a foreign nucleic acid fragment into the genome of a host cell.

Standard recombinant DNA and molecular cloning techniques used herein are well known in the art and are described more fully in Sambrook et al. Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual; Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press: Cold Spring Harbor, 1989 (hereinafter “Maniatis”).

“Motifs” or “subsequences” refer to short regions of conserved sequences of nucleic acids or amino acids that comprise part of a longer sequence. For example, it is expected that such conserved subsequences would be important for function, and could be used to identify new homologues in plants. It is expected that some or all elements may be found in a homologue. Also, it is expected that one or two of the conserved amino acids in any given motif may differ in a true homologue.

“PCR” or “polymerase chain reaction” is well known by those skilled in the art as a technique used for the amplification of specific DNA segments (U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,683,195 and 4,800,159).

The present invention concerns an isolated polynucleotide comprising:

    • (a) a nucleotide sequence encoding a polypeptide having galactinol synthase activity, wherein the polypeptide has an amino acid sequence of at least 85% identity, when compared to one of SEQ ID NO: 2 or 4 or 95% identity when compared to one of SEQ ID NO:6, based on the Clustal V method of alignment,
    • (b) all or part of the isolated polynucleotide comprising (a) for use in co-suppression or antisense suppression of endogenous nucleic acid sequences encoding polypeptides having galactinol synthase activity, or
    • (c) a complement of the nucleotide sequence of (a) or (b), wherein the complement and the nucleotide sequence consist of the same number of nucleotides and are 100% complementary.

This invention also includes the isolated complement of such polynucleotides, wherein the complement and the polynucleotide consist of the same number of nucleotides, and the nucleotide sequence of the complement and the polynucleotide have 100% complementarity.

Nucleic acid fragments encoding at least a portion of several galactinol synthases have been isolated and identified by comparison of random plant cDNA sequences to public databases containing nucleotide and protein sequences using the BLAST algorithms well known to those skilled in the art. The nucleic acid fragments of the instant invention may be used to isolate cDNAs and genes encoding homologous proteins from the same or other plant species. Isolation of homologous genes using sequence-dependent protocols is well known in the art. Examples of sequence-dependent protocols include, but are not limited to, methods of nucleic acid hybridization, and methods of DNA and RNA amplification as exemplified by various uses of nucleic acid amplification technologies (e.g., polymerase chain reaction, ligase chain reaction).

For example, genes encoding other galactinol synthases, either as cDNAs or genomic DNAs, could be isolated directly by using all or a portion of the instant nucleic acid fragments as DNA hybridization probes to screen libraries from any desired plant employing methodology well known to those skilled in the art. Specific oligonucleotide probes based upon the instant nucleic acid sequences can be designed and synthesized by methods known in the art (Maniatis). Moreover, an entire sequence can be used directly to synthesize DNA probes by methods known to the skilled artisan such as random primer DNA labeling, nick translation, end-labeling techniques, or RNA probes using available in vitro transcription systems. In addition, specific primers can be designed and used to amplify a part or all of the instant sequences. The resulting amplification products can be labeled directly during amplification reactions or labeled after amplification reactions, and used as probes to isolate full length cDNA or genomic fragments under conditions of appropriate stringency.

In addition, two short segments of the instant nucleic acid fragments may be used in polymerase chain reaction protocols to amplify longer nucleic acid fragments encoding homologous genes from DNA or RNA. The polymerase chain reaction may also be performed on a library of cloned nucleic acid fragments wherein the sequence of one primer is derived from the instant nucleic acid fragments, and the sequence of the other primer takes advantage of the presence of the polyadenylic acid tracts to the 3′ end of the mRNA precursor encoding plant genes. Alternatively, the second primer sequence may be based upon sequences derived from the cloning vector. For example, the skilled artisan can follow the RACE protocol (Frohman et al. (1988) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 85:8998-9002) to generate cDNAs by using PCR to amplify copies of the region between a single point in the transcript and the 3′ or 5′ end. Primers oriented in the 3′ and 5′ directions can be designed from the instant sequences. Using commercially available 3′ RACE or 5′ RACE systems (BRL), specific 3′ or 5′ cDNA fragments can be isolated (Ohara et al. (1989) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 86:5673-5677; Loh et al. (1989) Science 243:217-220). Products generated by the 3′ and 5′ RACE procedures can be combined to generate full-length cDNAs (Frohman and Martin (1989) Techniques 1:165). Consequently, a polynucleotide comprising a nucleotide sequence of at least 30 (preferably at least 40, most preferably at least 60) contiguous nucleotides derived from a nucleotide sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOs:1, 3, or 5 and the complement of such nucleotide sequences may be used in such methods to obtain a nucleic acid fragment encoding a substantial portion of an amino acid sequence of a galactinol synthase polypeptide.

Availability of the instant nucleotide and deduced amino acid sequences facilitates immunological screening of cDNA expression libraries. Synthetic peptides representing portions of the instant amino acid sequences may be synthesized. These peptides can be used to immunize animals to produce polyclonal or monoclonal antibodies with specificity for peptides or proteins comprising the amino acid sequences. These antibodies can be then be used to screen cDNA expression libraries to isolate full-length cDNA clones of interest (Lerner (1984) Adv. Immunol. 36:1-34; Maniatis).

In another embodiment, this invention concerns viruses and host cells comprising either the recombinant DNA constructs of the invention as described herein or isolated polynucleotides of the invention as described herein. Examples of host cells which can be used to practice the invention include, but are not limited to, yeast, bacteria, and plants.

Plant tissue includes differentiated and undifferentiated tissues or plants, including but not limited to, roots, stems, shoots, leaves, pollen, seeds, tumor tissue, and various forms of cells and culture such as single cells, protoplasm, embryos, and callus tissue. The plant tissue may in plant or in organ, tissue or cell culture.

The term “plant organ” refers to plant tissue or group of tissues that constitute a morphologically and functionally distinct part of a plant. The term “genome” refers to the following: 1. The entire complement of genetic material (genes and non-coding sequences) is present in each cell of an organism, or virus or organelle. 2. A complete set of chromosomes inherited as a (haploid) unit from one parent. The term “stably integrated” refers to the transfer of a nucleic acid fragment into the genome of a host organism or cell resulting in genetically stable inheritance.

As was noted above, the nucleic acid fragments of the instant invention may be used to create transgenic plants in which the disclosed polypeptides are present at higher or lower levels than normal or in cell types or developmental stages in which they are not normally found. This would have the effect of altering the level of galactinol synthase, galactinol, and raffinose saccharides in those cells.

Overexpression of the proteins of the instant invention may be accomplished by first constructing a recombinant DNA construct in which the coding region is operably linked to a promoter capable of directing expression of a gene in the desired tissues at the desired stage of development. The recombinant DNA construct may comprise promoter sequences and translation leader sequences derived from the same genes. 3′ Non-coding sequences encoding transcription termination signals may also be provided. The instant recombinant DNA construct may also comprise one or more introns in order to facilitate gene expression of the recombinant DNA construct.

Plasmid vectors comprising the instant isolated polynucleotides) (or recombinant DNA constructs) may be constructed. The choice of plasmid vector is dependent upon the method that will be used to transform host plants. The skilled artisan is well aware of the genetic elements that must be present on the plasmid vector in order to successfully transform, select and propagate host cells containing the recombinant DNA construct or recombinant DNA construct. The skilled artisan will also recognize that different independent transformation events will result in different levels and patterns of expression (Jones et al. (1985) EMBO J. 4:2411-2418; De Almeida et al. (1989) Mol. Gen. Genetics 218:78-86), and thus that multiple events must be screened in order to obtain lines displaying the desired expression level and pattern. Such screening may be accomplished by Southern analysis of DNA, Northern analysis of mRNA expression, Western analysis of protein expression, or phenotypic analysis.

It may also be desirable to reduce or eliminate expression of genes encoding the instant polypeptides in plants for some applications. In order to accomplish this, a recombinant DNA construct designed for co-suppression of the instant polypeptide can be constructed by linking a gene or gene fragment encoding that polypeptide to plant promoter sequences. Alternatively, a recombinant DNA construct designed to express antisense RNA for all or part of the instant nucleic acid fragment can be constructed by linking the gene or gene fragment in reverse orientation to plant promoter sequences. Either the co-suppression or antisense recombinant DNA constructs could be introduced into plants via transformation wherein expression of the corresponding endogenous genes are reduced or eliminated.

Molecular genetic solutions to the generation of plants with altered gene expression have a decided advantage over more traditional plant breeding approaches. Changes in plant phenotypes can be produced by specifically inhibiting expression of one or more genes by antisense inhibition or cosuppression (U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,190,931, 5,107,065 and 5,283,323). An antisense or cosuppression construct would act as a dominant negative regulator of gene activity. While conventional mutations can yield negative regulation of gene activity these effects are most likely recessive. The dominant negative regulation available with a transgenic approach may be advantageous from a breeding perspective. In addition, the ability to restrict the expression of a specific phenotype to the reproductive tissues of the plant by the use of tissue specific promoters may confer agronomic advantages relative to conventional mutations which may have an effect in all tissues in which a mutant gene is ordinarily expressed.

The person skilled in the art will know that special considerations are associated with the use of antisense or cosuppression technologies in order to reduce expression of particular genes. For example, the proper level of expression of sense or antisense genes may require the use of different recombinant DNA constructs utilizing different regulatory elements known to the skilled artisan. Once transgenic plants are obtained by one of the methods described above, it will be necessary to screen individual transgenics for those that most effectively display the desired phenotype. Accordingly, the skilled artisan will develop methods for screening large numbers of transformants. The nature of these screens will generally be chosen on practical grounds. For example, one can screen by looking for changes in gene expression by using antibodies specific for the protein encoded by the gene being suppressed, or one could establish assays that specifically measure enzyme activity. A preferred method will be one which allows large numbers of samples to be processed rapidly, since it will be expected that a large number of transformants will be negative for the desired phenotype.

In still another embodiment, the present invention concerns a galactinol synthase polypeptide having an amino acid sequence comprising at least 85% identical, based on the Clustal method of alignment, to a polypeptide of SEQ ID NO:2 or 4 or at least 95% identical to a polypeptide of SEQ ID NO:6. The instant polypeptides (or portions thereof) may be produced in heterologous host cells, particularly in the cells of microbial hosts, and can be used to prepare antibodies to these proteins by methods well known to those skilled in the art. The antibodies are useful for detecting the polypeptides of the instant invention in situ in cells or in vitro in cell extracts. Preferred heterologous host cells for production of the instant polypeptides are microbial hosts. Microbial expression systems and expression vectors containing regulatory sequences that direct high level expression of foreign proteins are well known to those skilled in the art. Any of these could be used to construct a recombinant DNA construct for production of the instant polypeptides. This recombinant DNA construct could then be introduced into appropriate microorganisms via transformation to provide high level expression of the encoded galactinol synthase. An example of a vector for high level expression of the instant polypeptides in a bacterial host is provided (Example 5).

All or a substantial portion of the polynucleotides of the instant invention may also be used as probes for genetically and physically mapping the genes that they are a part of, and used as markers for traits linked to those genes. Such information may be useful in plant breeding in order to develop lines with desired phenotypes. For example, the instant nucleic acid fragments may be used as restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) markers. Southern blots (Maniatis) of restriction-digested plant genomic DNA may be probed with the nucleic acid fragments of the instant invention. The resulting banding patterns may then be subjected to genetic analyses using computer programs such as MapMaker (Lander et al. (1987) Genomics 1:174-181) in order to construct a genetic map. In addition, the nucleic acid fragments of the instant invention may be used to probe Southern blots containing restriction endonuclease-treated genomic DNAs of a set of individuals representing parent and progeny of a defined genetic cross. Segregation of the DNA polymorphisms is noted and used to calculate the position of the instant nucleic acid sequence in the genetic map previously obtained using this population (Botstein et al. (1980) Am. J. Hum. Genet. 32:314-331).

The production and use of plant gene-derived probes for use in genetic mapping is described in Bernatzky and Tanksley (1986) Plant Mol. Biol. Reporter 4:37-41. Numerous publications describe genetic mapping of specific cDNA clones using the methodology outlined above or variations thereof. For example, F2 intercross populations, backcross populations, randomly mated populations, near isogenic lines, and other sets of individuals may be used for mapping. Such methodologies are well known to those skilled in the art.

Nucleic acid probes derived from the instant nucleic acid sequences may also be used for physical mapping (i.e., placement of sequences on physical maps; see Hoheisel et al. In: Nonmammalian Genomic Analysis: A Practical Guide, Academic press 1996, pp. 319-346, and references cited therein).

Nucleic acid probes derived from the instant nucleic acid sequences may be used in direct fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) mapping (Trask (1991) Trends Genet. 7:149-154). Although current methods of FISH mapping favor use of large clones (several hundred kb; see Laan et al. (1995) Genome Res. 5:13-20), improvements in sensitivity may allow performance of FISH mapping using shorter probes.

A variety of nucleic acid amplification-based methods of genetic and physical mapping may be carried out using the instant nucleic acid sequences. Examples include allele-specific amplification (Kazazian (1989) J. Lab. Clin. Med. 11:95-96), polymorphism of PCR-amplified fragments (CAPS; Sheffield et al. (1993) Genomics 16:325-332), allele-specific ligation (Landegren et al. (1988) Science 241:1077-1080), nucleotide extension reactions (Sokolov (1990) Nucleic Acid Res. 18:3671), Radiation Hybrid Mapping (Walter et al. (1997) Nat. Genet. 7:22-28) and Happy Mapping (Dear and Cook (1989) Nucleic Acid Res. 17:6795-6807). For these methods, the sequence of a nucleic acid fragment is used to design and produce primer pairs for use in the amplification reaction or in primer extension reactions. The design of such primers is well known to those skilled in the art. In methods employing PCR-based genetic mapping, it may be necessary to identify DNA sequence differences between the parents of the mapping cross in the region corresponding to the instant nucleic acid sequence. This, however, is generally not necessary for mapping methods.

Loss of function mutant phenotypes may be identified for the instant cDNA clones either by targeted gene disruption protocols or by identifying specific mutants for these genes contained in a maize population carrying mutations in all possible genes (Ballinger and Benzer (1989) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 86:9402-9406; Koes et al. (1995) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 92:8149-8153; Bensen et al. (1995) Plant Cell 7:75-84). The latter approach may be accomplished in two ways. First, short segments of the instant nucleic acid fragments may be used in polymerase chain reaction protocols in conjunction with a mutation tag sequence primer on DNAs prepared from a population of plants in which Mutator transposons or some other mutation-causing DNA element has been introduced (see Bensen, supra). The amplification of a specific DNA fragment with these primers indicates the insertion of the mutation tag element in or near the plant gene encoding the instant polypeptide. Alternatively, the instant nucleic acid fragment may be used as a hybridization probe against PCR amplification products generated from the mutation population using the mutation tag sequence primer in conjunction with an arbitrary genomic site primer, such as that for a restriction enzyme site-anchored synthetic adaptor. With either method, a plant containing a mutation in the endogenous gene encoding the instant polypeptide can be identified and obtained. This mutant plant can then be used to determine or confirm the natural function of the instant polypeptides disclosed herein.

This invention also relates to a method of reducing the raffinose saccharide content of soybean seeds by at least 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 95% or 100% or any integer percentage in between 30% to 100%.

Raffinose saccharides are a group of D-galactose-containing oligosaccharide derivatives of sucrose that are widely distributed in plants. Raffinose saccharides are characterized by the following general formula: [O-β-D-galactopyranosyl-(1→6)n-α-glucopyranosyl-(1→2)-β-D-fructofuranoside where n=0 through n=4 are known respectively as sucrose, raffinose, stachyose, verbascose and ajugose.

More specifically, this invention concerns method for reducing the level of at least one raffinose saccharide in soybean comprising:

    • (a) constructing a recombinant DNA construct comprising all or part of at least one isolated polynucleotide comprising a nucleotide sequence encoding a polypeptide having galactinol synthase activity for use in co-suppression or antisense suppression of endogenous nucleic acid sequences encoding polypeptides having galactinol synthase activity operably linked to at least one regulatory sequence; and
    • (b) transforming a soybean cell with the recombinant DNA construct of (a); and
    • (c) regenerating soybean plants from the transformed cells of step (c); and
    • screening seeds obtained from the plants of (c) for an altered level of galactinol synthase in the transformed soybean cell when compared to a corresponding nontransformed soybean cell.

The regeneration, development, and cultivation of plants from single plant protoplast transformants or from various transformed explants is well known in the art (Weissbach and Weissbach, In: Methods for Plant Molecular Biology, (Eds.), Academic Press, Inc. San Diego, Calif., (1988)). This regeneration and growth process typically includes the steps of selection of transformed cells, culturing those individualized cells through the usual stages of embryonic development through the rooted plantlet stage. Transgenic embryos and seeds are similarly regenerated. The resulting transgenic rooted shoots are thereafter planted in an appropriate plant growth medium such as soil. Preferably, the regenerated plants are self-pollinated to provide homozygous transgenic plants. Otherwise, pollen obtained from the regenerated plants is crossed to seed-grown plants of agronomically important lines. Conversely, pollen from plants of these important lines is used to pollinate regenerated plants. A transgenic plant of the present invention containing a desired polypeptide is cultivated using methods well known to one skilled in the art.

There are a variety of methods for the regeneration of plants from plant tissue. The particular method of regeneration will depend on the starting plant tissue and the particular plant species to be regenerated.

Methods for transforming dicots, primarily using Agrobacterium tumefaciens, and obtaining transgenic plants have been published for cotton (U.S. Pat. No. 5,004,863, U.S. Pat. No. 5,159,135, U.S. Pat. No. 5,518,908); soybean (U.S. Pat. No. 5,569,834, U.S. Pat. No. 5,416,011, McCabe et. al. (1988) Bio/Technology 6:923, Christou et al. (1988) Plant Physiol. 87:671-674); Brassica (U.S. Pat. No. 5,463,174); peanut (Cheng et al. (1996) Plant Cell Rep. 15:653-657, McKently et al. (1995) Plant Cell Rep. 14:699-703); papaya and pea (Grant et al. (1995) Plant Cell Rep. 15:254-258).

Transformation of monocotyledons using electroporation, particle bombardment, and Agrobacterium have also been reported. Transformation and plant regeneration have been achieved in asparagus (Bytebier et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (USA) (1987) 84:5354); barley (Wan and Lemaux (1994) Plant Physiol. 104:37); Zea mays (Rhodes et al. (1988) Science 240:204, Gordon-Kamm et al. (1990) Plant Cell 2:603-618, Fromm et al. (1990) Bio/Technology 8:833; Koziel et al. (1993) Bio/Technology 11: 194, Armstrong et al. (1995) Crop Science 35:550-557); oat (Somers et al. (1992) Bio/Technology 10: 15 89); orchard grass (Horn et al. (1988) Plant Cell Rep. 7:469); rice (Toriyama et al. (1986) Theor. Appl. Genet. 205:34; Part et al. (1996) Plant Mol. Biol. 32:1135-1148; Abedinia et al. (1997) Aust. J. Plant Physiol. 24:133-141; Zhang and Wu (1988) Theor. Appl. Genet. 76:835; Zhang et al. (1988) Plant Cell Rep. 7:379; Battraw and Hall (1992) Plant Sci. 86:191-202; Christou et al. (1991) Bio/Technology 9:957); rye (De la Pena et al. (1987) Nature 325:274); sugarcane (Bower and Birch (1992) Plant J. 2:409); tall fescue (Wang et al. (1992) Bio/Technology 10:691), and wheat (Vasil et al. (1992) Bio/Technology 10:667; U.S. Pat. No. 5,631,152).

Assays for gene expression based on the transient expression of cloned nucleic acid constructs have been developed by introducing the nucleic acid molecules into plant cells by polyethylene glycol treatment, electroporation, or particle bombardment (Marcotte et al., Nature 335:454-457 (1988); Marcotte et al., Plant Cell 1:523-532 (1989); McCarty et al., Cell 66:895-905 (1991); Hattori et al., Genes Dev. 6:609-618 (1992); Goff et al., EMBO J. 9:2517-2522 (1990)).

Transient expression systems may be used to functionally dissect isolated nucleic acid fragment constructs (see generally, Maliga et al., Methods in Plant Molecular Biology, Cold Spring Harbor Press (1995)). It is understood that any of the nucleic acid molecules of the present invention can be introduced into a plant cell in a permanent or transient manner in combination with other genetic elements such as vectors, promoters, enhancers etc.

In addition to the above discussed procedures the standard resource materials which describe specific conditions and procedures for the construction, manipulation and isolation of macromolecules (e.g., DNA molecules, plasmids, etc.), generation of recombinant organisms and screening and isolating of clones (see for example, Sambrook et al., Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual, Cold Spring Harbor Press (1989); Maliga et al., Methods in Plant Molecular Biology, Cold Spring Harbor Press (1995); Birren et al., Genome Analysis: Detecting Genes, 1, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. (1998); Birren et al., Genome Analysis: Analyzing DNA, 2, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. (1998); Plant Molecular Biology: A Laboratory Manual, eds. Clark, Springer, N.Y. (1997)) are well known.

EXAMPLES

The present invention is further defined in the following Examples, in which parts and percentages are by weight and degrees are Celsius, unless otherwise stated. It should be understood that these Examples, while indicating preferred embodiments of the invention, are given by way of illustration only. From the above discussion and these Examples, one skilled in the art can ascertain the essential characteristics of this invention, and without departing from the spirit and scope thereof, can make various changes and modifications of the invention to adapt it to various usages and conditions. Thus, various modifications of the invention in addition to those shown and described herein will be apparent to those skilled in the art from the foregoing description. Such modifications are also intended to fall within the scope of the appended claims.

The disclosure of each reference set forth herein is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

Example 1

Composition of cDNA Libraries; Isolation and Sequencing of cDNA Clones

A cDNA library representing mRNAs from soybean (Glycine max) tissue was prepared. The characteristics of the library are described below.

TABLE 1
cDNA Libraries from Soybean
LibraryTissueClone
sdp3cSoybean (Glycine max [L.])sdp3c.pk013.c9
developing pods 8-9 mm
srr3cSoybean (Glycine max [L.], Bell)srr3c.pk003.h12:fis
roots control for src3c.srr3c.pk001.i20:fis

cDNA libraries may be prepared by any one of many methods available. For example, the cDNAs may be introduced into plasmid vectors by first preparing the cDNA libraries in Uni-ZAP™ XR vectors according to the manufacturer's protocol (Stratagene Cloning Systems, La Jolla, Calif.). The Uni-ZAP™ XR libraries are converted into plasmid libraries according to the protocol provided by Stratagene. Upon conversion, cDNA inserts will be contained in the plasmid vector pBluescript. In addition, the cDNAs may be introduced directly into precut Bluescript II SK(+) vectors (Stratagene) using T4 DNA ligase (New England Biolabs), followed by transfection into DH10B cells according to the manufacturer's protocol (GIBCO BRL Products). Once the cDNA inserts are in plasmid vectors, plasmid DNAs are prepared from randomly picked bacterial colonies containing recombinant pBluescript plasmids, or the insert cDNA sequences are amplified via polymerase chain reaction using primers specific for vector sequences flanking the inserted cDNA sequences. Amplified insert DNAs or plasmid DNAs are sequenced in dye-primer sequencing reactions to generate partial cDNA sequences (expressed sequence tags or “ESTs”; see Adams et al., (1991) Science 252:1651-1656). The resulting ESTs are analyzed using a Perkin Elmer Model 377 fluorescent sequencer.

Full-insert sequence (FIS) data is generated utilizing a modified transposition protocol. Clones identified for FIS are recovered from archived glycerol stocks as single colonies, and plasmid DNAs are isolated via alkaline lysis. Isolated DNA templates are reacted with vector primed M13 forward and reverse oligonucleotides in a PCR-based sequencing reaction and loaded onto automated sequencers. Confirmation of clone identification is performed by sequence alignment to the original EST sequence from which the FIS request is made.

Confirmed templates are transposed via the Primer Island transposition kit (PE Applied Biosystems, Foster City, Calif.) which is based upon the Saccharomyces cerevisiae Ty1 transposable element (Devine and Boeke (1994) Nucleic Acids Res. 22:3765-3772). The in vitro transposition system places unique binding sites randomly throughout a population of large DNA molecules. The transposed DNA is then used to transform DH10B electro-competent cells (Gibco BRL/Life Technologies, Rockville, Md.) via electroporation. The transposable element contains an additional selectable marker (named DHFR; Fling and Richards (1983) Nucleic Acids Res. 11:5147-5158), allowing for dual selection on agar plates of only those subclones containing the integrated transposon. Multiple subclones are randomly selected from each transposition reaction, plasmid DNAs are prepared via alkaline lysis, and templates are sequenced (ABI Prism dye-terminator ReadyReaction mix) outward from the transposition event site, utilizing unique primers specific to the binding sites within the transposon.

Sequence data is collected (ABI Prism Collections) and assembled using Phred/Phrap (P. Green, University of Washington, Seattle). Phrep/Phrap is a public domain software program which re-reads the ABI sequence data, re-calls the bases, assigns quality values, and writes the base calls and quality values into editable output files. The Phrap sequence assembly program uses these quality values to increase the accuracy of the assembled sequence contigs. Assemblies are viewed by the Consed sequence editor (D. Gordon, University of Washington, Seattle).

In some of the clones the cDNA fragment corresponds to a portion of the 3′-terminus of the gene and does not cover the entire open reading frame. In order to obtain the upstream information one of two different protocols are used. The first of these methods results in the production of a fragment of DNA containing a portion of the desired gene sequence while the second method results in the production of a fragment containing the entire open reading frame. Both of these methods use two rounds of PCR amplification to obtain fragments from one or more libraries. The libraries some times are chosen based on previous knowledge that the specific gene should be found in a certain tissue and some times are randomly-chosen. Reactions to obtain the same gene may be performed on several libraries in parallel or on a pool of libraries. Library pools are normally prepared using from 3 to 5 different libraries and normalized to a uniform dilution. In the first round of amplification both methods use a vector-specific (forward) primer corresponding to a portion of the vector located at the 5′-terminus of the clone coupled with a gene-specific (reverse) primer. The first method uses a sequence that is complementary to a portion of the already known gene sequence while the second method uses a gene-specific primer complementary to a portion of the 3′-untranslated region (also referred to as UTR). In the second round of amplification a nested set of primers is used for both methods. The resulting DNA fragment is ligated into a pBluescript vector using a commercial kit and following the manufacturer's protocol. This kit is selected from many available from several vendors including Invitrogen (Carlsbad, Calif.), Promega Biotech (Madison, Wis.), and Gibco-BRL (Gaithersburg, Md.). The plasmid DNA is isolated by alkaline lysis method and submitted for sequencing and assembly using Phred/Phrap, as above.

Example 2

Identification of cDNA Clones

cDNA clones encoding galactinol synthase were identified by conducting BLAST (Basic Local Alignment Search Tool; Altschul et al. (1993) J. Mol. Biol. 215:403-410;) searches for similarity to sequences contained in the BLAST “nr” database (comprising all non-redundant GenBank CDS translations, sequences derived from the 3-dimensional structure Brookhaven Protein Data Bank, the last major release of the SWISS-PROT protein sequence database, EMBL, and DDBJ databases). The cDNA sequences obtained in Example 1 were analyzed for similarity to all publicly available DNA sequences contained in the “nr” database using the BLASTN algorithm provided by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). The DNA sequences were translated in all reading frames and compared for similarity to all publicly available protein sequences contained in the “nr” database using the BLASTX algorithm (Gish and States (1993) Nat. Genet. 3:266-272) provided by the NCBI. For convenience, the P-value (probability) of observing a match of a cDNA sequence to a sequence contained in the searched databases merely by chance as calculated by BLAST are reported herein as “pLog” values, which represent the negative of the logarithm of the reported P-value. Accordingly, the greater the pLog value, the greater the likelihood that the cDNA sequence and the BLAST “hit” represent homologous proteins.

ESTs submitted for analysis are compared to the GenBank database as described above. ESTs that contain sequences more 5- or 3-prime can be found by using the BLAST algorithm (Altschul et al (1997) Nucleic Acids Res. 25:3389-3402.) against the Du Pont proprietary database comparing nucleotide sequences that share common or overlapping regions of sequence homology. Where common or overlapping sequences exist between two or more nucleic acid fragments, the sequences can be assembled into a single contiguous nucleotide sequence, thus extending the original fragment in either the 5 or 3 prime direction. Once the most 5-prime EST is identified, its complete sequence can be determined by Full Insert Sequencing as described in Example 1. Homologous genes belonging to different species can be found by comparing the amino acid sequence of a known gene (from either a proprietary source or a public database) against an EST database using the tBLASTn algorithm. The tBLAST algorithm searches an amino acid query against a nucleotide database that is translated in all 6 reading frames. This search allows for differences in nucleotide codon usage between different species, and for codon degeneracy.

Example 3

Characterization of cDNA Clones Encoding Galactinol Synthase

The BLASTX search using the EST sequences from the clones listed in Table 2 revealed similarity of the polypeptides encoded by the cDNAs to galactinol synthase from Pisum sativum (NCBI GenBank Identifier (GI) No. 5541885, SEQ ID NO:7), Arabidopsis thaliana (NCBI GenBank Identifier (GI) No. 15223567, SEQ ID NO:8) and Glycine max (NCBI GenBank Identifier (GI) No. 32345694, SEQ ID NO:9). Shown in Table 2 are the BLAST results for the sequences encoding an entire protein (“CGS”) derived from the entire cDNA inserts comprising the indicated cDNA clones (“fis”):

TABLE 2
BLAST Results for Sequences Encoding Polypeptides
Homologous to Galactinol Synthase
BLAST pLog Score
CloneStatus(NCBI)
sdp3c.pk013.c9:fis (SEQ ID NO: 2)CGS149.57 (GI:5541885)
srr3c.pk003.h12:fis (SEQ ID NO: 4)CGS135.89 (GI:15223567)
srr3c.pk001.i20:fis (SEQ ID NO: 6)CGS166.70 (GI:32345694)

The sequence of the entire cDNA insert in the clones listed in Table 2 was determined. The data in Table 3 represent a calculation of the percent identity of the amino acid sequences set forth in SEQ ID Nos: 2, 4, and 6 and the sequences of Pisum sativum (SEQ ID NO: 7), Arabidopsis thaliana (SEQ ID NO: 8) and Glycine max (SEQ ID NO: 9).

TABLE 3
Percent Identity of Amino Acid Sequences Deduced
From the Nucleotide Sequences of cDNA Clones Encoding
Polypeptides Homologous to Galactinol Synthase
Percent Identity to
CloneSEQ ID NO:(Accession No.)
sdp3c.pk013.c9:fis282 (GI:5541885)
srr3c.pk003.h12:fis475 (GI:15223567)
srr3c.pk001.i20:fis692 (GI:32345694)

Sequence alignments and percent identity calculations were performed using the Megalign program of the LASERGENE bioinformatics computing suite (DNASTAR Inc., Madison, Wis.). Multiple alignment of the sequences was performed using the Clustal method of alignment (Higgins and Sharp (1989) CABIOS. 5:151-153) with the default parameters (GAP PENALTY=10, GAP LENGTH PENALTY=10). Default parameters for pairwise alignments using the Clustal method were KTUPLE 1, GAP PENALTY=3, WINDOW=5 and DIAGONALS SAVED=5. Sequence alignments and BLAST scores and probabilities indicate that the nucleic acid fragments comprising the instant cDNA clones encode a substantial portion of a galactinol synthase. These sequences represent new soybean sequences encoding galactinol synthase.

The expression pattern of galactinol synthase 3, 4 and 5 during soybean seed development was analyzed via Lynx MPSS Brenner et al (2000) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 97:1665-70) and is shown in Table 4.

TABLE 4*
40455055
Clone Designation15 DAF20 DAF30 DAFDAFDAFDAFDAFmature
sdp3c.pk013.c9614379619791604
srr3c.pk003.h1221151152133
srr3c.pk001.i20134579365329
*Lynx MPSS profiles (expressed as adjusted PPM) of galactinol synthase 3 (sdp3c.pk013.c9), galactinol synthase 4 (srr3c.pk003.h12) and galactinol synthase 5 (srr3c.pk001.i20) during soybean seed development (DAF = days after flowering, mature = mature seed).

The results shown in Table 4 demonstrate that expression of all three galactinol synthases are only detectable during the later stages of seed development (45 DAF to mature seed). Galactinol synthase 4 is very lowly expressed compared to galactinol synthase 3 and 5, which show high and intermediate expression levels during late seed development. The pattern of expression between galactinol synthase 3 and 5 also differs: whereas galactinol synthase 3 expression levels increase during the course of late seed development, reaching a plateau in the mature seed, galactinol synthase 5 expression appears to be prominent mainly at 55 DAF and in mature seed.

Example 4

Expression of Recombinant DNA Constructs in Dicot Cells

A seed-specific expression cassette composed of the promoter and transcription terminator from the gene encoding the alpha subunit of the seed storage protein phaseolin from the bean Phaseolus vulgaris (Doyle et al. (1986) J. Biol. Chem. 261:9228-9238) can be used for expression of the instant polypeptides in transformed soybean. The phaseolin cassette includes about 500 nucleotides upstream (5′) from the translation initiation codon and about 1650 nucleotides downstream (3′) from the translation stop codon of phaseolin. Between the 5′ and 3′ regions are the unique restriction endonuclease sites Nco I (which includes the ATG translation initiation codon), Sma I, Kpn I and Xba I. The entire cassette is flanked by Hind III sites.

The cDNA fragment of this gene may be generated by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of the cDNA clone using appropriate oligonucleotide primers. Cloning sites can be incorporated into the oligonucleotides to provide proper orientation of the DNA fragment when inserted into the expression vector. Amplification is then performed as described above, and the isolated fragment is inserted into a pUC18 vector carrying the seed expression cassette.

Soybean embryos may then be transformed with the expression vector comprising sequences encoding the instant polypeptides. To induce somatic embryos, cotyledons, 3-5 mm in length dissected from surface sterilized, immature seeds of the soybean cultivar A2872, can be cultured in the light or dark at 26° C. on an appropriate agar medium for 6-10 weeks. Somatic embryos which produce secondary embryos are then excised and placed into a suitable liquid medium. After repeated selection for clusters of somatic embryos which multiplied as early, globular staged embryos, the suspensions are maintained as described below.

Soybean embryogenic suspension cultures can be maintained in 35 mL liquid media on a rotary shaker, 150 rpm, at 26° C. with florescent lights on a 16:8 hour day/night schedule. Cultures are subcultured every two weeks by inoculating approximately 35 mg of tissue into 35 mL of liquid medium.

Soybean embryogenic suspension cultures may then be transformed by the method of particle gun bombardment (Klein et al. (1987) Nature (London) 327:70-73, U.S. Pat. No. 4,945,050). A DuPont Biolistic PDS1000/HE instrument (helium retrofit) can be used for these transformations.

A selectable marker gene which can be used to facilitate soybean transformation is a recombinant DNA construct composed of the 35S promoter from Cauliflower Mosaic Virus (Odell et al. (1985) Nature 313:810-812), the hygromycin phosphotransferase gene from plasmid pJR225 (from E. coli; Gritz et al. (1983) Gene 25:179-188) and the 3′ region of the nopaline synthase gene from the T-DNA of the Ti plasmid of Agrobacterium tumefaciens. The seed expression cassette comprising the phaseolin 5′ region, the fragment encoding the instant polypeptide and the phaseolin 3′ region can be isolated as a restriction fragment. This fragment can then be inserted into a unique restriction site of the vector carrying the marker gene.

To 50 μL of a 60 mg/mL 1 μm gold particle suspension is added (in order): 5 μL DNA (1 μg/μL), 20 μL spermidine (0.1 M), and 50 μL CaCl2 (2.5 M). The particle preparation is then agitated for three minutes, spun in a microfuge for 10 seconds and the supernatant removed. The DNA-coated particles are then washed once in 400 μL 70% ethanol and resuspended in 40 μL of anhydrous ethanol. The DNA/particle suspension can be sonicated three times for one second each. Five μL of the DNA-coated gold particles are then loaded on each macro carrier disk.

Approximately 300-400 mg of a two-week-old suspension culture is placed in an empty 60×15 mm petri dish and the residual liquid removed from the tissue with a pipette. For each transformation experiment, approximately 5-10 plates of tissue are normally bombarded. Membrane rupture pressure is set at 1100 psi and the chamber is evacuated to a vacuum of 28 inches mercury. The tissue is placed approximately 3.5 inches away from the retaining screen and bombarded three times. Following bombardment, the tissue can be divided in half and placed back into liquid and cultured as described above.

Five to seven days post bombardment, the liquid media may be exchanged with fresh media, and eleven to twelve days post bombardment with fresh media containing 50 mg/mL hygromycin. This selective media can be refreshed weekly. Seven to eight weeks post bombardment, green transformed tissue may be observed growing from untransformed, necrotic embryogenic clusters. Isolated green tissue is removed and inoculated into individual flasks to generate new, clonally propagated, transformed embryogenic suspension cultures. Each new line may be treated as an independent transformation event. These suspensions can then be subcultured and maintained as clusters of immature embryos or regenerated into whole plants by maturation and germination of individual somatic embryos.

Example 5

Expression of Recombinant DNA Constructs in Microbial Cells

The cDNAs encoding the instant polypeptides can be inserted into the T7 E. coli expression vector pBT430. This vector is a derivative of pET-3a (Rosenberg et al. (1987) Gene 56:125-135) which employs the bacteriophage T7 RNA polymerase/T7 promoter system. Plasmid pBT430 was constructed by first destroying the EcoR I and Hind III sites in pET-3a at their original positions. An oligonucleotide adaptor containing EcoR I and Hind III sites was inserted at the BamH I site of pET-3a. This created pET-3aM with additional unique cloning sites for insertion of genes into the expression vector. Then, the Nde I site at the position of translation initiation was converted to an Nco I site using oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesis. The DNA sequence of pET-3aM in this region, 5′-CATATGG, was converted to 5′-CCCATGG in pBT430.

Plasmid DNA containing a cDNA may be appropriately digested to release a nucleic acid fragment encoding the protein. This fragment may then be purified on a 1% low melting agarose gel. Buffer and agarose contain 10 μg/mL ethidium bromide for visualization of the DNA fragment. The fragment can then be purified from the agarose gel by digestion with GELase (Epicentre Technologies, Madison, Wis.) according to the manufacturer's instructions, ethanol precipitated, dried and resuspended in 20 L of water. Appropriate oligonucleotide adapters may be ligated to the fragment using T4 DNA ligase (New England Biolabs (NEB), Beverly, Mass.). The fragment containing the ligated adapters can be purified from the excess adapters using low melting agarose as described above. The vector pBT430 is digested, dephosphorylated with alkaline phosphatase (NEB) and deproteinized with phenol/chloroform as described above. The prepared vector pBT430 and fragment can then be ligated at 16° C. for 15 hours followed by transformation into DH5 electrocompetent cells (GIBCO BRL). Transformants can be selected on agar plates containing LB media and 100 μg/mL ampicillin. Transformants containing the gene encoding the instant polypeptide are then screened for the correct orientation with respect to the T7 promoter by restriction enzyme analysis.

For high level expression, a plasmid clone with the cDNA insert in the correct orientation relative to the T7 promoter can be transformed into E. coli strain BL21 (DE3) (Studier et al. (1986) J. Mol. Biol. 189:113-130). Cultures are grown in LB medium containing ampicillin (100 mg/L) at 25° C. At an optical density at 600 nm of approximately 1, IPTG (isopropylthio-β-galactoside, the inducer) can be added to a final concentration of 0.4 mM and incubation can be continued for 3 h at 25° C. Cells are then harvested by centrifugation and re-suspended in 50 μL of 50 mM Tris-HCl at pH 8.0 containing 0.1 mM DTT and 0.2 mM phenyl methylsulfonyl fluoride. A small amount of 1 mm glass beads can be added and the mixture sonicated 3 times for about 5 seconds each time with a microprobe sonicator. The mixture is centrifuged and the protein concentration of the supernatant determined. One μg of protein from the soluble fraction of the culture can be separated by SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Gels can be observed for protein bands migrating at the expected molecular weight.

Crude, partially purified or purified enzyme, either alone or as a fusion protein, may be utilized in assays for the evaluation of enzymatic activity of the instant polypeptides disclosed herein. Assays may be conducted under well-known experimental conditions which permit optimal enzymatic activity. Assays for galactinol synthase activity are presented by Odegard and Lumen (1995) Plant Physiol. 109: 505-511.

Example 6

Construction of Chimeric Vectors for Seed-Targeted Co-Suppression of Galactinol Synthase in Transgenic Glycine max

Vectors designed for the seed-specific co-suppression of galactinol synthase 1 galactinol synthase 2 and galactinol synthase 3 in soybean were assembled as described below.

Amplification of Partial Galactinol Synthase Polynucleotides

Polynucleotide fragments encoding parts of the galactinol synthase 1 (GAS1 (SEQ ID NO:6 of U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,773,699 and 5,648,210), galactinol synthase 2 (GAS2) in clone ses4d.pk0017.b8 (WO 01/77306) and galactinol synthase 3 (GAS3) in clone sdp3c.pk013.c9 were amplified by standard PCR methods using Pfu Turbo DNA polymerase (Stratagene, La Jolla, Calif.) and the following primer sets. The GAS1 oligonucleotide primers were designed to add a Not I restriction endonuclease site at the Send and a XhoI site to the 3′ end (SEQ ID NO:12 and SEQ ID NO:13, respectively). The DNA sequence comprising the 519 bp polynucleotide from soybean GAS1 is shown in SEQ ID NO:14.

The GAS2 oligonucleotide primers were designed to add a XhoI restriction endonuclease site at the Send and a PstI site to the 3′ end (SEQ ID NO:15 and SEQ ID NO:16 respectively). The DNA sequence comprising the 519 bp polynucleotide from soybean GAS2 is shown in SEQ ID NO:17.

The GAS3 oligonucleotide primers were designed to add a PstI restriction endonuclease site at the Send and a NotI site to the 3′ end (SEQ ID NO:18 and 19, respectively). The DNA sequence comprising the 519 bp polynucleotide from soybean GAS3 is shown in SEQ ID NO:20.

Assembly of Vectors for the Co-Suppression of Galactinol Synthase

Preparation of pJMS08: The polynucleotide products for GAS1, GAS2 and GAS3 obtained from the amplifications described above were digested with Not I, Xho1 and PSt1 and assembled into vector pJMS08 (FIG. 2) by the following steps. First, the plasmid KS151 [US patent publication 2003/0036197A1] was digested with Not I. Then, the isolated DNA fragments containing partial sequences of GAS1, GAS2 and GAS3 were inserted into Not I-digested plasmid KS151 to obtain plasmid pJMS08 (FIG. 2).

Plasmid KS151 also comprises nucleotides encoding HPT under the control of the T7 promoter and termination signals and the 35S promoter and Nos 3′ terminator (US patent publication 2003/0036197A1). The KTi3 promoter and 3′ transcription terminator region have been described by Jofuku et al. ((1989) Plant Cell 1:1079-1093). The KTI3 promoter directs strong embryo-specific expression of transgenes.

Preparation of pJMS10: The polynucleotide products for GAS1, GAS2 and GAS3 obtained from the amplifications described above were digested with Not I, Xho1 and PSt1 and assembled into vector pJMS10 (FIG. 3) by the following steps. From plasmid KS123 (prepared according to US Application No. 2004/0073975 A1, which published on Apr. 15, 2004) the HindIII cassette containing the beta-conglycinin promoter-phaseolin terminator was removed creating the plasmid KS120. To the unique BamHI site of plasmid KS120 a lea promoter-phaseolin terminator was inserted as a BamHI fragment creating plasmid KS127. The Lea promoter (Lee et al (1992) Plant Physiol. 100:2121-2122; Genbank Accession no. M97285) was amplified from genomic A2872 soybean DNA and a phaseolin 3′ end was added as described in US patent publication 2003/0036197 A1. To KS127 an EL linker was added to a unique Not1 site as described in US patent publication 2003/0036197 A1, creating plasmid KS139. To KS139 an EL linker was added to a unique Not1 site as described in US patent publication 2003/0036197 A1, creating plasmid KS147. Plasmid KS147 also comprises nucleotides encoding HPT under the control of the T7 promoter and termination signals and the 35S promoter and Nos 3′. Then, the isolated DNA fragments containing partial sequences of GAS1, GAS2 and GAS3 were inserted into the Not I-digested plasmid KS147 to obtain plasmid pJMS10 (FIG. 3).

Example 7

Construction of Chimeric Vectors for Seed-Targeted Co-Suppression of Galactinol Synthase in Transgenic Glycine max

Vectors designed for the seed-specific co-suppression of galactinol synthase 3, galactinol synthase 4 and galactinol synthase 5 in soybean can be assembled as described below.

Amplification of Partial Galactinol Synthase Polynucleotides

Polynucleotide fragments encoding parts of the galactinol synthase 4 (SEQ ID NO: 3), galactinol synthase 5 (SEQ ID NO:5) and galactinol synthase 3 (SEQ ID NO:1) are amplified by standard PCR methods using Pfu Turbo DNA polymerase (Stratagene, La Jolla, Calif.). Appropriate primer sets are chosen, giving polynucleotide fragments of similar length as described for GAS1, 2 and 3 (Example 6), which is well within the routine skill in the art.

Assembly of Vectors for the Co-Suppression of Galactinol Synthase

The assembly of vectors containing GAS 3, 4, and 5 for the co-suppression of galactinol synthase is performed essentially as described for GAS1, 2 and 3 in Example 6.

Transformation into soybean somatic embryos and carbohydrate analysis will be performed as described below for GAS1, 2, and 3.

It is expected, that a similar reduction in Raffinose Saccharides in soybean seeds will be observed using GAS 3, 4, 5 as the one observed with GAS1, 2, and 3.

Example 8

Transformation of Soybean Somatic Embryos with Galactinol Synthase Co-Suppression Vectors

To study the possibility of reducing Raffinose Family Oligosaccharides (RFOs), soybean somatic embryos were transformed with the seed-specific expression vectors pJMS08 (FIG. 2) or pJMS10 (FIG. 3) by the method of particle gun bombardment (Klein, T. M. et al. (1987) Nature (London) 327:70-73; U.S. Pat. No. 4,945,050). Soybean somatic embryos from the Jack cultivar were induced as follows. Cotyledons (3 mm in length) were dissected from surface sterilized, immature seeds and were cultured for an additional 6-10 weeks in the light at 26° C. on a Murashige and Skoog media containing 7 g/L agar and supplemented with 10 mg/mL 2,4-D. Globular stage somatic embryos, which produced secondary embryos, were then excised and placed into flasks containing liquid MS medium supplemented with 2,4-D (10 mg/mL) and cultured in the light on a rotary shaker. After repeated selection for clusters of somatic embryos that multiplied as early, globular staged embryos, the soybean embryogenic suspension cultures were maintained in 35 mL liquid media on a rotary shaker, 150 rpm, at 26° C. with fluorescent lights on a 16:8 hour day/night schedule. Cultures were subcultured every two weeks by inoculating approximately 35 mg of tissue into 35 mL of liquid medium.

Soybean embryogenic suspension cultures were then transformed by the method of particle gun bombardment using a DuPont Biolistic™ PDS1000/HE instrument (helium retrofit). To 50 μL of a 60 mg/μL 1 mm gold particle suspension were added (in order): 5 μL of 1 mg/μL DNA (pJMS01 plus pJMS02, pRM02 plus pRM03, pRM01, or pRM04), 20 μL of 0.1 M spermidine, and 50 μL of 2.5 M CaCl2. The particle preparation was then agitated for three minutes, spun in a microfuge for 10 seconds and the supernatant removed. The DNA-coated particles were then washed once in 400 μL 70% ethanol and resuspended in 40 μL of anhydrous ethanol. The DNA/particle suspension was sonicated three times for one second each. Five μL of the DNA-coated gold particles was then loaded on each macro carrier disk.

Approximately 300-400 mg of a two-week-old suspension culture was placed in an empty 60×15-mm Petri dish and the residual liquid removed from the tissue with a pipette. For each transformation experiment, approximately 5 to 10 plates of tissue were bombarded. Membrane rupture pressure was set at 1100 psi and the chamber was evacuated to a vacuum of 28 inches mercury. The tissue was placed approximately 3.5 inches away from the retaining screen and bombarded three times. Following bombardment, the tissue was divided in half and placed back into liquid and cultured as described above.

Five to seven days post bombardment, the liquid media was exchanged with fresh media, and eleven to twelve days post bombardment with fresh media containing 50 mg/mL hygromycin. This selective media was refreshed weekly. Seven to eight weeks post bombardment, green, transformed tissue was observed growing from untransformed, necrotic embryogenic clusters. Isolated green tissue was removed and inoculated into individual flasks to generate new, clonally propagated, transformed embryogenic suspension cultures. Each new line was treated as an independent transformation event. These suspensions were then subcultured and maintained as clusters of immature embryos.

These immature soybean embryos were dried-down (by transferring them into an empty small petridish that was seated on top of a 10 cm petridish containing some agar gel to allow slow dry down) to mimic the last stages of soybean seed development.

Dried-down embryos are capable of producing plants when transferred to soil or soil-less media. Storage products produced by embryos at this stage are similar in composition to storage products produced by zygotic embryos at a similar stage of development and most importantly the storage product profile is predictive of plants derived from a somatic embryo line (WO 94/11516, published May 26, 1994)).

Example 9

Carbohydrate Analysis of Transgenic Soybean Somatic Embryos

The carbohydrate composition of transgenic somatic embryos identified in Example 6 as containing the pJMS08 or pJMS10 cassettes was measured by high performance anion exchange chromatography/pulsed amperometric detection (HPAE/PAD). Fresh individual somatic embryos from transgenic lines were rapidly washed in water, dried on a paper towel, and transferred into 1.5 mL microcentrifuge tubes. Ethanol (80%) was added to the tubes and the samples were heated to 70° C. for 15 minutes. The samples were centrifuged at 14,000 rpm for 5 minutes at 4° C. and the supernatant collected. The pellet was re-extracted two additional times with 80% ethanol at 70° C. The supernatants were combined, dried down in a speedvac, and the pellet re-suspended in water.

For HPAE analysis, the extracts were filtered through a 0.2 μm Nylon-66 filter (Rainin, Emeryville, Calif.) and analyzed by HPAE/PAD using a DX500 anion exchange analyzer (Dionex, Sunnyvale, Calif.) equipped with a 250×4 mm CarboPac PA1 anion exchange column and a 25×4 mm CarboPac PA guard column. Soluble carbohydrates were separated with a 25 minute linear gradient of 0.5 to 170 mM NaAc in 150 mM NaOH at a flow rate of 1.0 mL/min. Soluble sugars were identified by comparison to standards (glucose, fructose, sucrose, raffinose, stachyose, and verbascose) using HPAE/PAD.

FIG. 4 and Table 5 show a typical carbohydrate profile resulting from HPAE/PAD analysis of transgenic soybean somatic embryos co-suppressing galactinol synthase. A clear reduction in RFOs (raffinose, stachyose and vebascose) can be observed as compared to FIG. 5 and wild type values in Table 5.

FIG. 5 shows a typical carbohydrate profile resulting from HPAE/PAD analysis of a soybean somatic embryo showing a wild type carbohydrate phenotype.

The results for two different events showing cosuppression experiments of the three isoforms of Galactinol Synthases 1, 2, and 3 are shown in Table 5 above. For each event, 6 seeds were analyzed. The results are expressed in μmol/g dwt (sugar unit), where the dry weight calculation was based on 7% moisture content of seed.

TABLE 5
Stach/Pheno-%
Eventseedwt(g)golsucrraffstachverbtotRSArafftypereduction
1231-10.141.37179.9918.3511.900.1443.940.65Low48.45
1-1-1RFO
1231-20.141.12120.7119.8432.330.0085.621.63WT
1-1-1
1231-30.190.68159.3818.0620.570.0059.881.14Low29.77
1-1-1RFO
1231-40.200.83122.3617.8431.620.9984.881.77WT
1-1-1
1231-50.190.78148.2016.1419.200.0055.321.19Low35.10
1-1-1RFO
1231-60.140.57161.8015.7512.980.0042.280.82Low50.41
1-1-1RFO
Mean0.170.97121.4918.8431.970.4985.241.700.00
WT
Mean0.160.85162.3417.0716.160.0350.350.9540.93
Low
RFO
1231-10.132.12187.3921.0313.560.4151.510.64Low52.67
1-1-3RFO
1231-20.132.15186.3625.6916.090.4361.300.63Low43.68
1-1-3RFO
1231-30.132.09193.1825.3133.420.0094.251.32WT
1-1-3
1231-40.150.81231.8820.468.900.2139.720.44Low63.51
1-1-3RFO
1231-50.141.28236.1919.8213.430.1948.540.68Low55.40
1-1-3RFO
1231-60.151.63164.6817.0543.411.11108.842.55WT
1-1-3
Mean0.141.86178.9321.1838.410.56101.550.00
WT
Mean0.141.59210.4621.7512.980.3150.2750.50
Low
RFO

TotRSA (total raffinose saccharides) refers to the α-galactose content present in the sum of galactinol (gol, 1 mol α-galactose/mole), raffinose (raft, 1 mol α-galactose/mole), stachyose (stach, 2 mol α-galactose/mole) and verbascose (verb, 3 mol α-galactose/mole). Sucrose is sucr. % Reduction indicates the change in total RFOs compared to the wild type.

Example 10

Isolation of Soybean PM29 Promoter

The promoter of a soybean seed maturation protein was isolated using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based approach. Soybean genomic DNA was digested to completion with a DNA restriction enzyme that generates blunt ends (DraI, EcoRV, PvuII or StuI, for example) according to standard protocols. The Universal GenomeWalker™ kit from Clonetech™ (Product User Manual No. PT3042-1) was used to ligate adaptors to the ends of the genomic DNA fragments. Nested primers are also supplied in the Universal GenomeWalker™ kit that are specific for the adaptor sequence (AP1 and AP2, for the first and second adaptor primer, respectively). Two gene specific primers (GSP1 and GSP2) were designed for the soybean PM29 gene based on the 5′ coding sequences in PM29 cDNA in DuPont EST database. The oligonucleotide sequences of the GSP1 and GSP2 primers (SEQ ID NO:21 and SEQ ID NO:22, respectively) contain recognition sites for the restriction enzyme BAMH I.

The AP2 primer from the Universal GenomeWalker™ kit contains a Sal I restriction site. The AP1 and the GSP1 primers were used in the first round PCR using each of the adaptor ligated genomic DNA populations (DraI, EcoRV, PvuII or StuI) under conditions defined in the GenomeWalker™ protocol. Cycle conditions were 94° C. for 4 minutes; 94° C. for 2 seconds and 72° C. for 3 minutes, 7 cycles; 94° C. for 2 seconds and 67° C. for 3 minutes, 32 cycles; 67° C. for 4 minutes. The products from each of the first run PCRs were diluted 50-fold. One microliter from each of the diluted products was used as templates for the second PCR with the AP2 and GSP2 as primers. Cycle conditions were 94° C. for 4 minutes; 94° C. for 2 seconds and 72° C. for 3 minutes, 5 cycles; 94° C. for 2 seconds and 67° C. for 3 minutes, 20 cycles; 67° C. for 3 minutes. Agarose gels were run to determine which PCR gave an optimal fragment length. A 679 bp genomic fragment was detected and isolated from the EcoRV-digested genomic DNA reaction. The genomic fragment was digested with BamH I and Sal I and cloned into Bluescript KS+ vector for sequencing. Finally, sequencing data indicated that this genomic fragment contained a 597 bp soybean PM29 promoter sequence as shown in SEQ ID NO:23.

Example 11

Construction of Galactinol Synthase Silencing Plasmids Driven by PM29

Two oligonucleotides were designed to re-amplify the PM29 promoter with either BamH I or Nco I sites (SEQ ID NO:24 and SEQ ID NO:25, respectively). The re-amplified PM29 promoter fragment was digested with BamH I and Nco I, purified and cloned into the BamH I and Nco I sites of plasmid pG4G (FIG. 6) to make the fusion between the soybean PM29 promoter-GUS fusion (pSH43). The plasmid pG4G has been described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,968,793, the contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference.

Preparation of SH55 and SH49:

Plasmid pSH43 (described above) was digested with NcoI, filled in with vent polymerase (obtained from New England Biolabs Inc.) and subsequently digested with BamHI (5′ end of the promoter). The resulting promoter fragment was isolated and cloned into pBluescript II SK (+) (Stratagene, Inc.) previously cut with XbaI (and filled in by vent polymerase) and BamHI creating the plasmids pBluescriptPM29. This construct contains a unique Not1 site at the 3′ end of the promoter. Two copies of the Eag1-ELVISLIVES sequence (SEQ ID NO:26) were added on the 5′ site of the Not1 site as described in EP1297163 A2 (PCT Publication No. WO 2002/000904, which published Jan. 3, 2002).

The promoter fragment was isolated using a BamHI/Not1 digestion and ligated into pJMS10 plasmid previously cut with BamH1 (partial) and Not1. The pJMS10 plasmid also contains the complementary strand of SEQ ID NO:26 (SEQ ID NO:27) 3′ of the Not1 site. This ligation resulted in the following plasmid: SH55 (PM29 promoter-ELEL-Not1-ELEL-Phaseolin terminator) and SH49. SH49 is identical to SH55 with the exception of a truncated ELEL sequence (SEQ ID NO:28) at the 3′ border of the Not1. The truncated sequence is missing the “tgacca” of the ELEL sequence at the 3′ border of the Not1 and was identified after sequence verification of the plasmid and probably originated during the PCR amplification of the ELEL linker. This truncation has no effect on the ability of silencing the GAS genes as is evident from Example 12.

Preparation of SH50:

A Not1 fragment containing the partial sequences of soybean GAS1 (SEQ ID NO:14), GAS2 (SEQ ID NO:17) and GAS3 (SEQ ID NO:20) was digested from pJMS10 (described above) and then ligated into SH49 previously digested with Not1, creating the plasmid SH50 (SEQ ID NO:29 and FIG. 7).

Example 12

Raffinose Family Oligosaccharide (RFO) Analysis of PM29 Driven Transgenic Soybean Somatic Embryos and Mature Seeds

Soybean somatic embryos were transformed with a seed-preferred expression vector SH50 (SEQ ID NO:29 and FIG. 7) by the method described in Example 8.

Raffinose Family Oligosaccharides (galactinol, raffinose, stachyose, etc.) of transgenic somatic embryos and seeds containing the PM29 promoter driven recombinant expression construct described in Example 11 was measured by thin layer chromatography. Somatic embryos or seed chips were extracted with hexane then dried. The dried material was resuspended in 80% methanol, incubated at room temperature for 1-2 hours, centrifuged, and 2 microliters of the supernatant is spotted onto a TLC plate (Kieselgel 60 CF, from EM Scientific, Gibbstown, N.J.; Catalog No. 13749-6). The TLC was run in ethylacetate:isopropanol:20% acetic acid (3:4:4) for 1-1.5 hours. The air dried plates were sprayed with 2% sulfuric acid and heated until the charred sugars were detected. As shown in FIG. 8 two lines show reduced levels of raffinose sugars (raffinose and stachyose lowest bands) when compared to a to wild-type soybean. The arrow indicates somatic embryos with reduced raffinose family oligosaccharides. (WT=wild type control, S=sucrose, Rf=raffinose and St=stachyose standard). FIG. 9 shows a TLC analysis of mature seed chips from a soybean line transformed with SH50 and revealed an almost complete reduction in raffinose and stachyose (RFO) sugars in seeds when compared to wild-type soybean. The plate shows that 13 out of 17 seeds from a single event show a dramatic reduction in raffinose family oligosaccharides (RFO).

Carbohydrate Analysis of Transgenic Soybean Seeds

The carbohydrate composition of transgenic soybean seeds containing the PM29 promoter driven recombinant expression construct described in Example 11 (SH50) was measured by high performance anion exchange chromatography/pulsed amperometric detection (HPAE/PAD). Seed chips were extracted in ethanol (80%) and heated to 70° C. for 15 minutes. The samples were centrifuged at 14,000 rpm for 5 minutes at 4° C. and the supernatant collected. The pellet was re-extracted two additional times with 80% ethanol at 70° C. The supernatants were combined, dried down in a speedvac, and the pellet re-suspended in water.

For HPAE analysis, the extracts were filtered through a 0.2 μm Nylon-66 filter (Rainin, Emeryville, Calif.) and analyzed by HPAE/PAD using a DX500 anion exchange analyzer (Dionex, Sunnyvale, Calif.) equipped with a 250×4 mm CarboPac PA1 anion exchange column and a 25×4 mm CarboPac PA guard column. Soluble carbohydrates were separated with a 20 isocratic run in 150 mM NaOH at a flow rate of 1.0 mL/min. Soluble sugars were identified by comparison to standards (glucose, fructose, sucrose, raffinose, stachyose, and verbascose) using HPAE/PAD.

A typical profile of a soybean mutant characterized by highly reduced raffinose family oligosaccharides content (Hitz et al. 2002. Plant Physiology Vol 128, pp 650-660) is shown in FIG. 10 (Mutant HE2, left). As a comparison, the carbohydrate profile of soybeans transformed with SH50 as described in Example 12 is shown on the right (Transgenic seed with HE2 phenotype). Furthermore, the sucrose to RFO ratio of the transgenic and mutant was very similar and more than 10 fold higher when compared to wild type. The % decrease in RFO when compared to wild type of some transgenic seeds are shown in Table 6 and indicate a % reduction ranging from 71% to 89%. In comparison, the percent reduction of the mutant was 85%.

TABLE 6
Sucrose to RFO ratio and % decrease in RFO of transgenic soybean
seeds (transformed with SH50) when compared with Jack wild type.
AUV
1EventS/RFO ratio% decrease in RFO
2AFS4042-5-1-1, seed 16.871
3AFS4042-5-1-1, seed 515.987
4AFS4042-5-1-1, seed 711.282
5AFS4042-5-1-1, seed 1212.785
6AFS4042-5-1-1, seed 1817.889
7AFS4042-5-1-1, seed 2012.582
8AFS4042-5-1-3, seed 716.387
9AFS4042-5-1-4, seed 214.685
10AFS4042-5-1-4, seed 710.580
11
12Jack-wild type0
14Low RFO mutant85
The % reduction in RFO of a known mutant is included as a reference.

Example 13

Construction of Galactinol Synthase Silencing Plasmids Driven by β-Conglycinin and KTI3

Plasmid pJMS10 (FIG. 3) was prepared as described in Example 6.

Preparation of Plasmid pDS3:

pKR57 (FIG. 11) (4479 bp; SEQ ID NO:30) was digested with Eco RI and Not I, run on a 0.8% Tris-Acetate-Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid-agarose gel (TAE-agarose gel) and a 3144 bp fragment containing the β-conglycinin promoter, an origin of replication and a gene encoding ampicillin resistance was purified using the Qiagen gel extraction kit. pKR63 (FIG. 12) (5010 bp; SEQ ID NO:31) was digested with Eco RI and Not I, run on a 0.8% TAE-agarose gel and a 2270 bp fragment containing the KTi promoter was purified using the Qiagen gel extraction kit. The isolated fragments were ligated together and the ligation was transformed into E. coli and colonies were selected on ampicillin. Bacterial colonies were selected and grown overnight in LB media and appropriate antibiotic selection. DNA was isolated from the resulting culture using a Qiagen miniprep kit according to the manufacturer's protocol and then analyzed by restriction digest. The resulting plasmid was named pDS1 (FIG. 13) (5414 bp; SEQ ID NO:32).

pKR72 (FIG. 14) (7085 bp; SEQ ID NO:33) was digested with Hind III, run on a 0.8% TAE-agarose gel and a 5303 bp fragment containing a gene that encodes resistance to hygromycin operably linked to a prokaryotic promoter and a gene that encodes resistance to hygromycin operably linked to a eukaryotic promoter were purified using the Qiagen gel extraction kit. The fragment was ligated to itself and the ligation was transformed into E. coli and colonies were selected on hygromycin. Bacterial colonies were selected and grown overnight in LB media and appropriate antibiotic selection. DNA was isolated from the resulting culture using a Qiagen miniprep kit according to the manufacturer's protocol and then analyzed by restriction digest. The resulting plasmid was named pDS2 (FIG. 15) (5303 bp; SEQ ID NO:34).

pDS2 was digested with Sal I and the ends were dephosphorylated with calf intestinal alkaline phosphatase (CIAP) according to the manufacture's instructions (Stratagene, San Diego, Calif.). pDS1 was digested with Sal I and Fsp I, run on a 0.8% TAE-agarose gel and a 2728 bp fragment containing the KTi3 promoter and the β-conglycinin promoter in opposite orientations was purified using the Qiagen gel extraction kit. The isolated fragments were ligated together and the ligation was transformed into E. coli and colonies were selected on hygromycin. Bacterial colonies were selected and grown overnight in LB media and appropriate antibiotic selection. DNA was isolated from the resulting culture using a Qiagen miniprep kit according to the manufacturer's protocol and then analyzed by restriction digest. The resulting plasmids were named pDS3 [orientation 2 (FIG. 16, SEQ ID NO: 35)].

Preparation of SH60:

pJMS10 (FIG. 3) was digested with Not1, run on a 0.8% TAE-agarose gel and a 1585 bp DNA fragment (SEQ ID NO:37) comprising the partial sequences of GAS1 (SEQ ID NO:14), GAS2 (SEQ ID NO:17) and GAS3 (SEQ ID NO:20) was purified using the Qiagen gel extraction kit. pDS3 (orientation 2) (FIG. 16, SEQ ID NO: 35) was digested with Not1, run on a 0.8% TAE-agarose gel and a 8031 bp DNA fragment was purified using the Qiagen gel extraction kit. The isolated fragments were ligated together and the ligation was transformed into E. coli and colonies were selected on hygromycin. Bacterial colonies were selected and grown overnight in LB media and appropriate antibiotic selection. DNA was isolated from the resulting culture using a Qiagen miniprep kit according to the manufacturer's protocol and then analyzed by restriction digest. The resulting plasmid was named SH60 (FIG. 17, SEQ ID NO: 36).

Example 14

Reduction of Raffinose Family Oligosaccharide (RFO) in Transgenic Soybean Somatic Embryos

SH60, as described in Example 13, was transformed into soybean embryogenic suspension cultures using a protocol as described in Example 8 above. Individual immature soybean embryos were dried-down (by transferring them into an empty small petridish that was seated on top of a 10 cm petridish containing some agar gel to allow slow dry down) to mimic the last stages of soybean seed development. Dried-down embryos are capable of producing plants when transferred to soil or soil-less media. Storage products produced by embryos at this stage are similar in composition to storage products produced by zygotic embryos at a similar stage of development and most importantly the storage product profile is predictive of plants derived from a somatic embryo line (PCT Publication No. WO 94/11516, which published on May 26, 1994). Raffinose Family Oligosaccharides (raffinose, stachyose) of transgenic somatic embryos containing the B-conglycinin/KT13 driven (SH60) recombinant expression construct described in Example 13 was measured by thin layer chromatography. Somatic embryos were extracted with hexane then dried. The dried material was re-suspended in 80% methanol, incubated at room temperature for 1-2 hours, centrifuged, and 2 μl of the supernatant is spotted onto a TLC plate (Kieselgel 60 CF, from EM Scientific, Gibbstown, N.J.; Catalog No. 13749-6). The TLC was run methylacetate:isopropanol:20% acetic acid (3:4:4) for 1-1.5 hours. The air dried plates were sprayed with 2% sulfuric acid and heated until the charred sugars were detected. As shown in FIG. 18 the embryos labeled “Low RFO embryos” show reduced levels of raffinose sugars (raffinose and stachyose s) when compared to a to wild-type soybean. Five out of eleven (45%) lines analyzed showed reduced levels of RFOs, which is demonstrative of reduced galactinol synthase expression (see Table 7).

TABLE 7
Positive Transformed Lines with Reduced
Galactinol Synthase Expression
carbohydrate phenotype
GAS1GAS2GAS3 lines with wild type6 out of 11
RFO levels
GAS1GAS2GAS3 lines with reduced5 out of 11
RFO levels
Percent gene silencing45%