In human and animal cells, the catecholamines are involved in glycogen mobilization. Since the compounds are found in a potato, their function in starch mobilization was hypothesized. In order to verify this hypothesis, the transgenic potato plants Solanum tuberosum L. cv. Desiree overexpressing tyrosine decarboxylase (TD EC 18.104.22.168) cDNA from parsley has been generated. The cDNA expression was judged by the northern blot analysis and the enzyme activity measurements. Four independent transgenic lines with the highest TD mRNA expression were selected and analyzed. The expected substantial decrease in tyrosine content was followed by significant increase in tyramine and dramatic enhancement of norepinephrine synthesis was detected. The level of L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanin (L-Dopa) was only slightly increased and dopamine significantly decreased in most cases in these plants. The increase in norepinephrine was accompanied by changes in carbohydrate metabolism. The significant increase in glucose and sucrose and the decrease in starch content were characteristic features of TD overexpressed transgenic potato tubers. The features mentioned above indicate that catecholamines potentiate starch mobilization in potato plants in common with animal cells. The decrease in tyrosine content in transgenic plants is also compensated by significant increase in chlorogenic acid synthesis thus potentially increasing the antioxidant capacity of transgenic tubers. The glycoalkaloids content is changed in the transformants. This may originate from glucose accumulation and glycolysis activation. The obtained transgenic potato provides material for further detailed studies of the physiological function of catecholamines in plants. © 2003 Elsevier SAS. All rights reserved.
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