Patent application filed by Edenspace Systems Corporation and the University of Arizona

Company overview

Edenspace Systems Corp. is a US biotechnology R&D company located in Virginia that produces transgenic plants for use in environmental protection and renewable fuels.  Main products and services include:

  • Phytoremediation of heavy metals, metalloids and organic compounds.
  • Soil and groundwater assessment and remediation.
  • Biodetection and biomonitoring of environmental contaminants.

Technology overview

The US patent application described in this section discloses use of anthocyanin synthesis as a reporter system in transgenic plant biosensors.  Examples in the specification provide a method to produce transgenic plants that detect heavy metals with a construct containing anthocyanin regulatory gene B that is fused to the BjMTP1 promoter (BjMTP, Brassica junceametal tolerance protein), which was introduced into Arabidopsis and Maize.

Details of the patent document

Patent or publication no. Title, Independent Claims and Summary Assignee and licensing information
US 2005/114923

  • Earliest priority – 1 Jul 2003
  • Filed – 1 Jul 2004
  • Published – 26 May 2005
  • Granted – not applicable
Title – Plant biosensor systems

Claim 1

nucleic acid construct comprising:

  • a gene encoding a product involved in the biosynthesis of a plant pigment, said gene being operably linked to aninducible sensor system, wherein the sensor system is responsive to the presence of a contaminant.
Claim 26

A transgenic plant cell comprising a transgene comprising:

  • a gene encoding a product involved in the biosynthesis of a plant pigment, said gene being operably linked to an inducible sensor system, wherein the sensor system is responsive to the presence of a contaminant.
Claim 49

A transgenic plant exhibiting a change in color phenotype when exposed to a contaminant, the transgenic plant comprising a transgene comprising:

  • a gene encoding a product involved in the biosynthesis of a plant pigment, said gene being operably linked to an inducible sensor system which is responsive to the presence of a contaminant.
Claim 75

A transgenic plant exhibiting different changes in color phenotype when exposed to different contaminants, the transgenic plant comprising more than one transgene, each transgene comprising:

  • a gene encoding a product involved in the biosynthesis of a plant pigment, said gene being operably linked to an inducible sensor system which is responsive to the presence of a particular contaminant and whose induction by that particular contaminant is associated with a specific change in color phenotype.
Claim 76

A method for preparing a transgenic plant exhibiting a change in color phenotype when exposed to a contaminant, the method comprising:
1. introducing a nucleic acid construct into a plant cell or protoplast to obtain a stably transformed plant cell or protoplast, the construct comprising:

  • a gene encoding a product involved in the biosynthesis of a plant pigment, said gene being operably linked to an inducible sensor system, wherein the sensor system is responsive to the presence of the contaminant;

2. regenerating a whole plant from the stably transformed plant cell or protoplast to obtain a transgenic plant comprising a transgene comprising:

  • a gene encoding a product involved in the biosynthesis of a plant pigment, said gene being operably linked to an inducible sensor system, wherein the sensor system is responsive to the presence of the contaminant; and

3. exposing the transgenic plant to the contaminant.

Claim 105

A method for detecting the presence of a contaminant in an area, the method comprising:
1. introducing, in the area to be tested, seeds from a transgenic plant comprising a transgene comprising:

  • a gene encoding a product involved in the biosynthesis of a plant pigment, said gene being operably linked to an inducible sensor system, wherein the sensor system is responsive to the presence of the contaminant;

2. growing transgenic plants from the seeds;
3. monitoring the color phenotype of the resulting plants; and
4. determining that the contaminant is present in the area tested if a change in color phenotype was observed in the resulting plants.

Claim 131

A method for detecting the presence of contaminants in an area, the method comprising:
1. introducing, in the area to be tested, seeds from a transgenic plant comprising more than one transgene, each transgene comprising:

  • a gene encoding a product involved in the biosynthesis of a plant pigment, said gene being operably linked to an inducible sensor system which is responsive to the presence of a particular contaminant and whose induction by that particular contaminant is associated with a specific change in color phenotype;

2. growing transgenic plants from the seeds;
3. monitoring the color phenotype of the resulting plants; and
4. determining that a particular contaminant is present in the area tested if the associated change in color phenotype was observed in the resulting plants.

The claims are generally drawn towards:

  • a nucleic acid construct comprising a gene encoding a product involved in the biosynthesis of a plant pigment (claim 1)
  • a transgenic plant cell comprising a gene encoding a product involved in the biosynthesis of a plant pigment (claim 26)
  • a transgenic plant exhibiting a change in color phenotype when exposed to a contaminant (claim 49)
  • a transgenic plant exhibiting different changes in color phenotype when exposed to different contaminants (claim 75)
  • a method for preparing a transgenic plant exhibiting a change in color phenotype when exposed to a contaminant (claim 76)
  • a method for detecting the presence of contaminants in an area (claims 105, 131)

Definitions extracted from the description are:

  • Nucleic acid product – a polynucleotide or oligonucleotide comprising nucleic acid sequences not normally associated in nature
  • Product – a gene product (e.g., primary transcript, mRNA, pre-protein, protein, or higher order complex)
  • Operably linked – a relationship between two nucleic acid sequences wherein the expression of one of the nucleic acid sequences is controlled by, regulated by or modulated by the other nucleic acid sequence
  • (Inducible) sensor system – a polynucleotide which is, in some manner, dependent upon an external stimulus (such as the presence of a contaminant) in order to actively transcribe and/or translate a gene to which it is operably linked
  • Contaminant – any compound, molecule, agent or entity whose presence and/or level in an area or environment is to be detected
  • Transgene – an exogenous gene which, when introduced into a host cell through the hand of man, for example, using a process such as transformation, electroporation, particle bombardment, and the like, is expressed by the host cell and integrated into the cell’s DNA such that the trait or traits produced by the expression of the transgene is inherited by the progeny of the transformed cell
  • Plant – can refer to a whole plant, plant parts (e.g., cuttings, tubers, pollen), plant organs (e.g., leaves, stems, flowers, roots, fruits, branches, etc.), individual plant cells, groups of plant cells (e.g., cultured plant cells), protoplasts, plant extracts, seeds, and progeny thereof.
  • Stably transformed – a cell, callus or protoplast in which an inserted exogenous nucleic acid molecule is capable of replication either as an autonomously replicating plasmid or as part of the host chromosome
  • Area – not specified in the description, other than that the contaminant may be present in the air, in water or in a soil.

Comments:

Since this is a published application and not a granted patent, currently there are no enforceable rights.

Four examples provided in the specification are:

  1. Transgenic Plants For the Detection of Volatile Organic Compounds – method to identify and validate genes that are up-regulated in plants exposed to benzene and formaldehyde (no results provided).
  2. Identification of Genes Up-Regulated by Heavy Metals – method to identify and validate genes that are up-regulated in plants exposed to one or more of the metals, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, mercury, nickel, lead, selenium and zinc (no results provided).
  3. Generation of Transgenic Plants for Heavy Metal Detection – method to generate transgenic Arabidopsis and Maizecontaining BjMTP1 promoter::GFP or BjMTP1 promoter::anthocyanin regulatory gene B (no results on tests for anthocyanin accumulation in the transgenic plants exposed to heavy metals).
  4. Transgenic Plants as Biomarkers for Heavy Metals in Drinking Water – method to detect BjMTP mRNA expression in Brassica juncea seedlings exposed to arsenic, cadmium, and lead in water (no results provided).
Edenspace Systems Corporation

3810 Concorde Parkway, Suite 100
Dulles, VA, 20151-1131
Toll-free +1-877-961-8777
Tel +1-703-961-8700
Fax +1-703-961-8939

University of Arizona

(THE ARIZONA BOARD OF REGENTS)

Office of Technology Transfer

888 N. EUCLID AVENUE, PO BOX 210158
OTT, ROOM 204
TUCSON, ARIZONA 85721-0158

The following two contacts for licensing were listed in the contact information site:

Dubuque, Suzanne, PhD
Licensing Associate / Life Sciences
(520) 626-1213
sdubuque@ott.arizona.edu

Trammell, Mary Louise “Mike”, PhD
Senior Licensing Associate / Life Sciences
(520) 626-7916
trammell@email.arizona.edu

Search strategy

Search details
Date of search 19/04/2006
Database searched Patent Lens
Type of search Simple, stemming on
Collections searched AU-B, US-A, US-B, EP-B, WO
Search terms Edenspace in applicant
Results 1
Comments