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General Information

Document type
  • Peer-reviewed journal article
GE organism
  • maize
GE trait
  • quality
  • USA


  • positive effect

Transgenic maize endosperm containing a milk protein has improved amino acid balance

Bicar, EH; Woodman-Clikeman, W; Sangtong, V; Peterson, JM; Yang, SS; Lee, M; Scott, MP
Transgenic Research. 2008 February. 17(1):59-71

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PMID: 17387628 DOI: 10.1007/s11248-007-9081-3 ISSN: 1573-9368


In order to meet the protein nutrition needs of the world population, greater reliance on plant protein sources will become necessary. The amino acid balance of most plant protein sources does not match the nutritional requirements of monogastric animals, limiting their nutritional value. In cereals, the essential amino acid lysine is deficient. Maize is a major component of human and animal diets worldwide and especially where sources of plant protein are in critical need such as sub-Saharan Africa. To improve the amino acid balance of maize, we developed transgenic maize lines that produce the milk protein alpha-lactalbumin in the endosperm. Lines in which the transgene was inherited as a single dominant genetic locus were identified. Sibling kernels with or without the transgene were compared to determine the effect of the transgene on kernel traits in lines selected for their high content of alpha-lactalbumin. Total protein content in endosperm from transgene positive kernels was not significantly different from total protein content in endosperm from transgene negative kernels in three out of four comparisons, whereas the lysine content of the lines examined was 29-47% greater in endosperm from transgene positive kernels. The content of some other amino acids was changed to a lesser extent. Taken together, these changes resulted in the transgenic endosperms having an improved amino acid balance relative to non-transgenic endosperms produced on the same ear. Kernel appearance, weight, density and zein content did not exhibit substantial differences in kernels expressing the transgene when compared to non-expressing siblings. Assessment of the antigenicity and impacts on animal health will be required in order to determine the overall value of this technology.


Transgene, Maize, α-Lactalbumin, Lysine, Nutrition, Grain


Funding source
  • Iowa Corn Promotion Board
  • Raymond F. Baker Center for Plant Breeding
  • Pioneer Hibred International
Funding country
  • United States
Funding type
  • industry: same
  • NGO: same industry aligned
  • NGO: independent

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Cite this study


Bicar, EH, W Woodman-Clikeman, V Sangtong, JM Peterson, SS Yang, M Lee, MP Scott. "Transgenic maize endosperm containing a milk protein has improved amino acid balance." Transgenic Research 17.1 (2008): 59-71. Web. 7 Dec. 2023.


Bicar, EH., Woodman-Clikeman, W., Sangtong, V., Peterson, JM., Yang, SS., Lee, M., & Scott, MP. (2008). Transgenic maize endosperm containing a milk protein has improved amino acid balance. Transgenic Research, 17(1), 59-71. doi:10.1007/s11248-007-9081-3

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