Skip to comments.Researchers genetically alter wheat to make it nearly free of gluten
Posted on 11/27/2012 9:39:28 AM PST by Red Badger
An international team of researchers has succeeded in genetically altering wheat seeds to prevent the production of gluten in subsequent plants. The effort focused, the team writes in their paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, on disabling the enzyme responsible for activating genes responsible for the development of gluten protein.
The research team is part of an effort by many groups to solve the problem of celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten. The current treatment for patients with the disorder is to instruct them to avoid foods with gluten in it. The problem with that approach of course is that it leads to a difficult to maintain, severely restricted diet.
Recent research has centered around trying to isolate certain types of grains that don't produce gluten and switching over to them. That effort has run into trouble however as thus far none have been found that are safe for celiac patients. Another approach has been to try to develop a substance that could be added to the diet to aid in the digestion of gluten. But such efforts on that front have failed as well.
This latest research has taken a different approach: altering current grains to cause them to not produce gluten in the first place. To alter samples of wheat seeds, the researchers focused on the enzyme DEMETER which is responsible for activating a group of genes that result in the production of gluten. Using several genetic engineering techniques they managed to suppress the DENMETER enzyme by 85.6 percent which resulted in a 76.4 percent reduction of gluten in the seeds that were produced. The researchers acknowledge that more work lies ahead to reach the ultimate goal of removing gluten from the wheat seeds altogether, but they say their results so far have given them confidence that they will be able to soon meet their objective. They also note that flour made with the seeds they've altered thus far appears to still be suitable for making bread. They also add that even as their attempts move forward to remove gluten altogether from grains, other research will commence to determine if such grains will allow for use in foods by those that suffer from celiac disease, with tests being conducted on mice and gluten sensitive apes.
Structural genes of wheat and barley 5-methylcytosine DNA glycosylases and their potential applications for human health, PNAS, Published online before print November 26, 2012, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1217927109 Abstract Wheat supplies about 20% of the total food calories consumed worldwide and is a national staple in many countries. Besides being a key source of plant proteins, it is also a major cause of many diet-induced health issues, especially celiac disease.
The only effective treatment for this disease is a total gluten-free diet. The present report describes an effort to develop a natural dietary therapy for this disorder by transcriptional suppression of wheat DEMETER (DME) homeologs using RNA interference. DME encodes a 5-methylcytosine DNA glycosylase responsible for transcriptional derepression of gliadins and low-molecular-weight glutenins (LMWgs) by active demethylation of their promoters in the wheat endosperm. Previous research has demonstrated these proteins to be the major source of immunogenic epitopes.
In this research, barley and wheat DME genes were cloned and localized on the syntenous chromosomes. Nucleotide diversity among DME homeologs was studied and used for their virtual transcript profiling. Functional conservation of DME enzyme was confirmed by comparing the motif and domain structure within and across the plant kingdom. Presence and absence of CpG islands in prolamin gene sequences was studied as a hallmark of hypo- and hypermethylation, respectively. Finally the epigenetic influence of DME silencing on accumulation of LMWgs and gliadins was studied using 20 transformants expressing hairpin RNA in their endosperm. These transformants showed up to 85.6% suppression in DME transcript abundance and up to 76.4% reduction in the amount of immunogenic prolamins, demonstrating the possibility of developing wheat varieties compatible for the celiac patients.
Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
There's a reason I use high protein flour to make bread, and low protein flour to make cakes.
Sorry for the people with the medical problem, but I'll continue to use real wheat flour.
Gluten is what makes bread hold together, and springy.
The leavening is what makes it rise, baking soda, yeast, etc......
UP WITH GLUTEN!!
So long, Mrs. Baird. So long, Crispy Creme. So long, hot dog and hamburger buns so so long summer grill outs and fast food. Hello, Moochelle’s garden.
Gluten is the reason wheat is central to society: it makes dough sticky enough to “rise” and thus bread desirable to eat. Without gluten, wheat is little more than any other non-”rising” grain. “Bread” made of oats, rice, etc just isn’t that appealing. If gluten-free wheat gets anywhere its because high-gluten wheat paved the way and keeps that path going.
No gluten, no CO2 entrapment, no rise.
Of more concern is the prospect of using the gene silencing techniques in a food grain. There is a variant in the lab that silences glycogen and the genetic material can be passed to the next generation of human from a mother who consumes it. The result is a child who can't make glycogen is dies early. Not a good idea to let that out of the lab unless you're trying to exterminate humans.
Not “ hello moochelles garden” for me.
I can’t eat wheat/barley/gluten OR dairy.
Atkins diet is a way of life for me.
My wife has celiac disease.
Gluten free wheat will never replace normal wheat. However, this is great news for my family. If they can come close to making a gluten free product that tastes similar to “normal” food, great!
I would expect that there will be a very limited market for such wheat, and segregation issues will be a major problem as well. But... We will pay a healthy premium to buy this product if it makes it to the market.
I HIGHLY doubt any of you have anything to worry about in regards to gluten free wheat over taking “normal” wheat as the norm.
We use gene splicing all the time in grains that are used for food consumption.
Roundup ready corn/soybeans are resistant to round up, making it easier and cheaper to kill weeds (higher yield)
Several traits can be added to corn to make it less attractive to insects and root worms (less pesticide applications).
At the end of the day gene splicing has made food cheaper, and for the most part saved us introducing more chemicals into the environment.
It is a good thing.
And you are correct, gluten free will never take over traditional wheat. If for no other reason than some troublemakers will keep the old stuff around, and plant a small plot. Like I do. ;)
Xanthan Gum can replace the gluten.
I’m able to eat gluten, with no desire to give it up, but my wife is not. She uses this all the time in her baking.
I would assume she could use the Xanthan Gum with a gluten free wheat and come closer to a wheat based flavor than she can now.
I quit gluten nine years ago. I felt such mental clarity after a few weeks I would never go back. I drink two gallons of milk a week though.. my personal addiction. Thankfully, I love beef and bacon. I am among the skinniest non- smoker my age too. Something about that wheat belly.
Thanks for your prayers!
Oats are traditionally on the avoid list for those with celiac, but the main reason is because most oats have come in contact with wheat during harvest/handling.
A few years ago, gluten free oats hit the market. Not genetically modified, just segregated from the start. They cost about 5x as much as traditional oats, but it gives her a chance to enjoy oatmeal like the rest of us.
I’m sure a gluten free wheat would be similar.
I gained a lot of compassion for those with limited diets, and a lot of gratitude for my own garbage disposal metabolism.