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Genes under control
Date:3/30/2010

in more specific detail is not the only thing that can be done with the theophylline riboswitch. Riboswitches could also play an important role in the biotechnology of the future, given that chloroplasts are well-suited to the production of potential drugs. That's because each tobacco cell contains as many as 100 chloroplasts. The chloroplast genome is therefore present in many copies. As a result, it is capable of building more proteins than the DNA in the cell nucleus. By way of example, the Potsdam-based scientists modified the genes of the tobacco plant such that it was able to produce large quantities of an antibiotic in its leaves.

Chloroplasts rarely spread through pollen

Proteins could be produced in much larger quantities in genetically modified chloroplasts. In many cases, however, these foreign proteins damage cellular metabolism or photosynthesis if the cells produce them continuously. Consequently, the growth of such plants is often inhibited or extremely slow. Riboswitches could prevent that. They could be used to switch on the corresponding genes when the plant is already fully formed and about to be harvested. Foreign genes have another advantage in the chloroplasts besides this: they are inherited almost without exception through the female egg cell. It is therefore extremely rare for foreign genes to spread through the pollen of the tobacco plants.


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Contact: Ralph Bock
rbock@mpimp-golm.mpg.de
49-331-567-8700
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert

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