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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: A Simple and Sensitive Assay for Distinguishing the Expression of Ricin and Ricinus Communis Agglutinin Gene in Developing Castor Seed (Ricinus Communis L.)

item Chen, Grace
item He, Xiaohua
item McKeon, Thomas

Research conducted cooperatively with:
item The Dow Chemical Company

Submitted to: Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 6, 2005
Publication Date: February 23, 2005
Citation: Chen, G.Q., He, X., McKeon, T.A. 2005. A simple and sensitive assay for distinguishing the expression of ricin and ricinus communis agglutinin gene in developing castor seed (Ricinus communis L.). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 53(6):2358-2361.

Interpretive Summary: Castor seed ricn is highly toxic proteins and is detrimental to reintroduction of castor as crop. As part of a genetic approach to eliminate ricin from castor, we investigated the developmental expression of this gene in castor seed.

Technical Abstract: Castor oil is the only commercial source of ricinoleic acid and has numerous industrial applications. Among the factors limiting domestic production of castor oil is the presence of the toxin ricin and its less toxic homologue Ricinus communis agglutinin (RCA) in seeds. Although the sequences of ricin and RCA genes are known, their transcriptional expression patterns have not been distinguished due to their high degree of sequence similarity. As the information is critical for assessing success in developing a ricin-free castor crop using genetic silencing, we have designed a gene specific reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay to examine the expression of the ricin and RCA genes in developing seeds. The results show that the ricin and RCA mRNA are highly abundant in seeds during the development of endosperm, and the expression pattern is similar to that observed in the Northern analysis. The RT-PCR results can be confirmed by a simple RT-PCR-based restriction fragment analysis.

Last Modified: 4/22/2015