Yield10 Bioscience announced that it has signed an exclusive worldwide license from the University of Missouri (MU) for a novel, advanced technology to boost oil content in crops. The license expands Yield10’s intellectual property portfolio around technologies for increasing oil content in oilseed crops. This new gene target, designated C3012 by Yield10, is consistent with the company’s focus on using CRISPR-Cas/9 genome-editing to increase seed oil content, the primary economic value driver in these crops.

Professor of Biochemistry Jay Thelen and his team at the MU Bond Life Sciences Center, have made fundamental biochemistry discoveries related to the function and regulation of Acetyl-CoA carboxylase (“ACCase”), a key rate-limiting enzyme involved in oil production in crops. In 2018, Yield10 licensed technology from MU related to a trait named C3007, a gene for a negative controller that inhibits the enzyme activity of ACCase. The new technology licensed by Yield10, C3012, targets an additional gene in the ACCase complex that may complement the activity of C3007 to boost oil content in crops. Yield10 also licensed from MU in 2018 a yield target called C3010, which, if over-expressed, results in increased activity of ACCase and may lead to increased oil content.

“This additional license with University of Missouri underscores our focus on gene targets in the ACCase complex to re-engineer oil biosynthesis pathways in crops,” says Oliver Peoples, president and CEO of Yield10 Bioscience. “We look forward to evaluating the new technology accessed under the license which we have designated C3012 both on its own as well as in combination with C3007, where we believe its activity may be synergistic. The detailed biochemistry studies performed by Dr. Thelen and his team have not only improved our understanding of the regulation of these critical metabolic pathways but have led to these impressive discoveries and patent applications around the ACCase complex, and we look forward to continuing our work together.”

“The ACCase protein complex is the gatekeeper for carbon flow into fatty acid biosynthesis,” says Thelen. “In terms of regulation, this complex is poorly understood in plants. My lab is focused on identifying new components to this complex and leveraging these discoveries to push carbon flow through this bottleneck. The end goal is to engineer plants to produce more oil.”

“The discoveries made by Dr. Thelen and his team around the biochemistry of a key enzyme in a key fatty acid biosynthesis pathway in plants represents an innovative and significant advancement in boosting oil content and yield in crops,” says Sam Bish, interim director and senior licensing and business development associate, MU Technology Advancement Office.  “This additional license to Yield10 Bioscience further enables the company to assemble and deploy advanced technologies to increase the amount of oil harvested from plants, an important renewable source of hydrocarbons for food, energy and chemical feedstocks. The availability of healthy, edible oils is a crucial element in enhancing global food security.”

Thelen is a member of Yield10 Bioscience’s Science Advisory Board.