Elevation of lutein content in tomato: A biochemical tug-of-war between lycopene cyclases

Giorio G., YILDIRIM A. , STIGLIANI L., D'Ambrosio C.

METABOLIC ENGINEERING, vol.20, pp.167-176, 2013 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 20
  • Publication Date: 2013
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.ymben.2013.10.007
  • Title of Journal : METABOLIC ENGINEERING
  • Page Numbers: pp.167-176


Lutein is becoming increasingly important in preventive medicine due to its possible role in maintaining good vision and in preventing age-related maculopathy. Average daily lutein intake in developed countries is often below suggested daily consumption levels, and lutein supplementation could be beneficial. Lutein is also valuable in the food and feed industries and is emerging in nutraceutical and pharmaceutical markets. Currently, lutein is obtained at high cost from marigold petals, and synthesis alternatives are thus desirable. Tomato constitutes a promising starting system for production as it naturally accumulates high levels of lycopene. To develop tomato for lutein synthesis, the tomato Red Setter cultivar was transformed with the tomato lycopene e-cyclase-encoding gene under the control of a constitutive promoter, and the HighDelta (HD) line, characterised by elevated lutein and delta-carotene content in ripe fruits, was selected. HD was crossed to the transgenic RC line and to RSB with the aim of converting all residual fruit delta-carotene to lutein. Fruits of both crosses were enriched in lutein and presented unusual carotenoid profiles. The unique genetic background of the crosses used in this study permitted an unprecedented analysis of the role and regulation of the lycopene cyclase enzymes in tomato.