The supply of a plant-derived anti-cancer drug can finally meet global demand after a team of scientists from Denmark and the U.S. engineered yeast to produce the precursor molecules, which could previously only be obtained in trace concentrations in the native plant. A study describing the breakthrough was recently published in Nature. The international team included four researchers from the Biological Systems and Engineering Division: Leanne Jade G. Chan, Edward Baidoo, Christopher J. Petzold, and Jay D. Keasling.
Lysine is an important amino acid that must be supplied in our diets, as our bodies can’t produce lysine on their own. Most cereal grains have low levels of lysine, and scientists have worked to breed crops with higher lysine levels.
However, the biochemical processes that break down lysine in plants weren’t fully understood. New Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) research, published in Nature Communications, reveals this last missing step of lysine catabolism.