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Patents on Plant Transcription Factors

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Transcription factors are clue elements in the regulation of signal transduction pathways in living organisms. These proteins are able to recognize and bind specific sequences in the promoter regions of their targets and subsequently activate or repress entire metabolic or developmental processes. About 1500 TFs were informatically identified in plants, analysis mainly based in the presence of DNA-binding domains in the translated sequences. However, only a few of these 1500 were functionally characterized and clearly classified as TFs. Among these, several seem to be powerful biotechnological tools in order to improve agronomic crops via the obtaining of transgenic plants or as molecular markers. Such TFs have become the objects of patents presentations in the whole world. The assigned uses present a variety of purposes including the improvement in yield, abiotic and biotic stresses tolerances as well as a combination of them. Some examples are commented in the present overview. Most of these TFs confer to transgenic plants complex phenotypes due to a combination of different regulated pathways. In this sense, the use of inducible promoters instead of constitutive ones seems in some cases to be useful to limit the changed phenotype to the desired one, avoiding lateral effects. None of these TFs was converted up to now in a market product since time-consuming experiments and regulation permits are required to arrive to such point. Moreover, a considerable money investment must be done, not justified in all cases. However, it is likely that these molecules will become in the near future the first choice for breeders since it was demonstrated that TFs are very efficient conferring desired traits to transgenic plants. Additionally, for the public perception the over or ectopic expression of a plant gene should be more accepted than the use of molecules from other species.

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Keywords: Plant transcription factor; complex phenotypes; plant domestication; plant improvement; stress tolerance; transgenic plants

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 November 2008

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