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General Information

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


  • positive effect

Improving nutritional quality of maize proteins by expressing sense and antisense zein genes

Huang, S; Adams, WR; Zhou, Q; Malloy, KP; Voyles, DA; Anthony, J; Kriz, AL; Luethy, MH
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2004 March. 52(7):1958–1964

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PMID: 15053536 DOI: 10.1021/jf0342223 ISSN: 0021-8561


The predominant proteins in maize grain are a family of alcohol-soluble prolamin storage proteins called zeins. They account for >50% of total seed proteins but are deficient in several essential amino acids. As a result, the corn grain is considered to be nutritionally poor for monogastric animals with respect to key essential amino acids, most notably lysine, tryptophan, and methionine. Thus, corn mutants with reduced levels of zeins, such as opaque-2 (o2), have been demonstrated to possess grain with improved nutritional quality characteristics. The o2 mutant has a superior amino acid composition and has been used through conventional breeding to develop Quality Protein Maize (QPM) for human and animal consumption in developing countries. With the understanding of molecular genetics of zeins and progress in biotechnology, an alternative approach to zein reduction is explored here. Through the targeted reduction of the 19-kDa alpha-zeins, increased levels of lysine, tryptophan, and methionine have been engineered in grain of transgenic hybrids. Currently, the agronomic properties and nutritional values of these transgenic lines are being evaluated.


Zein reduction; high lysine; high tryptophan; quality trait; antisense; maize; nutritional quality


Funding source
  • Monsanto
Funding country
  • United States
Funding type
  • industry: same

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Cite this study


Huang, S, WR Adams, Q Zhou, KP Malloy, DA Voyles, J Anthony, AL Kriz, MH Luethy. "Improving nutritional quality of maize proteins by expressing sense and antisense zein genes." Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 52.7 (2004): 1958–1964. Web. 28 May. 2024.


Huang, S., Adams, WR., Zhou, Q., Malloy, KP., Voyles, DA., Anthony, J., Kriz, AL., & Luethy, MH. (2004). Improving nutritional quality of maize proteins by expressing sense and antisense zein genes. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 52(7), 1958–1964. doi:10.1021/jf0342223

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