Ames, Iowa — For the first time, the a1 chain of type 1 collagen has been produced in maize, and has demonstrated levels of proline hydroxylation similar to those in human collagen, Medical News Today reports.
Most collagen administered aesthetically is animal-derived and can contain infectious agents or be rejected by the body. An alternative is to produce collagen from plants, but systems developed to do this have been unable to make modifications essential for proper functioning in human cells.
Working in collaboration with industrial partners, researchers led by Iowa State University’s Kan Wang, Ph.D., added a gene to maize that codes for the a1 chain of human collagen, along with genes that make human prolyl 4-hydroxylase. This second protein was able to hydroxylate virtually the same percentage of prolines in the recombinant collagen a1 chain in maize as exists in collagen made in human cells.
Medical News Today quotes Dr. Wang as saying, “Producing human collagen in maize seeds is an inexpensive alternative to using animal-derived collagen. The seeds are easy to grow, process and store. Our transgenic plant system is also able to produce a protein with human-like modifications, making it a better choice for a wide range of applications.”
The research was reported in the open access journal BMC Biotechnology.