The restoration of fertility in male sterile tobacco demonstrates that transgene silencing can be mediated by T-DNA that has no DNA homology to the silenced transgene

D L Hird, W Paul, J S Hollyoak, Rod J Scott

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Male sterile tobacco plants expressing a pathogenesis-related (PR) beta-1,3-glucanase gene driven by the Arabidopsis thaliana A3 or A9 tapetum-specific promoter, were partially restored to fertility by retransformation with a range of pA9-driven sense and antisense PR glucanase fragments. The restored plants exhibited improved seed set. PR glucanase protein was undetectable in the anthers of these plants and there was an associated increase in microsporocyte callose, the structural target of the A3 and A9-driven PR glucanase. This phenotype was not solely dependent on interactions between sense and antisense PR glucanase transcripts since a pA9-driven restorer was also capable of down regulating a pA3-GUS construct in the absence of extensive promoter, coding region, or terminator sequence homology. Since the A3 and A9 promoters have similar temporal and spatial expression patterns, it is possible that trans-acting factors common to both promoters become limiting in the PR glucanase double transformants resulting in improved levels of fertility. An alternative hypothesis is that additional sequences present in both the silencing and target T-DNAs can mediate the silencing of adjacent non-homologous transgenes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-102
Number of pages12
JournalTransgenic Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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