Down-regulation of β-carotene hydroxylase increases β-carotene and total carotenoids enhancing salt stress tolerance in transgenic cultured cells of sweetpotato

Sun Ha Kim, Young Ock Ahn, Mi Jeong Ahn, Haeng Soon Lee, Sang Soo Kwak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


Sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas Lam.) is an important industrial crop and source of food that contains useful components, including antioxidants such as carotenoids. β-Carotene hydroxylase (CHY-β) is a key regulatory enzyme in the beta-beta-branch of carotenoid biosynthesis and it catalyzes hydroxylation into both β-carotene to β-cryptoxanthin and β-cryptoxanthin to zeaxanthin. To increase the β-carotene content of sweetpotato through the inhibition of further hydroxylation of β-carotene, the effects of silencing CHY-β in the carotenoid biosynthetic pathway were evaluated. A partial cDNA encoding CHY-β was cloned from the storage roots of orange-fleshed sweetpotato (cv. Shinhwangmi) to generate an RNA interference-IbCHY-β construct. This construct was introduced into cultured cells of white-fleshed sweetpotato (cv. Yulmi). Reverse transcription- polymerase chain reaction analysis confirmed the successful suppression of IbCHY-β gene expression in transgenic cultured cells. The expression level of phytoene synthase and lycopene β-cyclase increased, whereas the expression of other genes showed no detectable change. Down-regulation of IbCHY-β gene expression changed the composition and levels of carotenoids between non-transgenic (NT) and transgenic cells. In transgenic line #7, the total carotenoid content reached a maximum of 117 μg/g dry weight, of which β-carotene measured 34.43 μg/g dry weight. In addition, IbCHY-β-silenced calli showed elevated β-cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin contents as well as high transcript level P450 gene. The 2,2-diphenyl-1- picrylhydrazyl radical scavenging activity (DPPH) in transgenic cells was more than twice that in NT cells. RNA-IbCHY-β calli increased abscisic acid (ABA) content, which was accompanied by enhanced tolerance to salt stress. In addition, the production of reactive oxygen species measured by 3,3′-diaminobenzidine (DAB) staining was significantly decreased in transgenic cultured cells under salt stress. Taken together, the present results indicate that down-regulation of IbCHY-β increased β-carotene contents and total carotenoids in transgenic plant cells and enhanced their antioxidant capacity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-78
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • Carotenoid
  • Metabolic engineering
  • RNA interference
  • Sweetpotato
  • β-Carotene
  • β-Carotene hydroxylase


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