High frequency of single-copy T-DNA transformants produced by floral dip in CRE-expressing Arabidopsis plants

Annelies De Paepe, Sylvie De Buck, Katleen Hoorelbeke, Jonah Nolf, Ingrid Peck, Anna Depicker
Plant Journal 2009, 59 (4): 517-27
For genetic transformation of plants, floral dip with Agrobacterium often results in integration of multiple T-DNA copies at a single locus and frequently in low and unstable transgene expression. To obtain efficient single-copy T-DNA transformants, two CRE/loxP recombinase-based simplifying strategies for complex T-DNA loci were compared. A T-DNA vector with oppositely oriented loxP sites was transformed into CRE-expressing and wild-type control Arabidopsis thaliana plants. Of the primary CRE-expressing transformants, 55% harboured a single copy of the introduced T-DNA, but only 15% in the wild-type plants. However, 73% of the single-copy transformants in the CRE background showed continuous somatic inversion of the DNA segment between the two loxP sites. To avoid inversion of the loxP-flanked T-DNA segment, two T-DNA vectors harbouring only one loxP site were investigated for their suitability for CRE/loxP recombinase-mediated resolution upon floral-dip transformation into CRE-expressing plants. On average, 70% of the transformants in the CRE background were single-copy transformants, whereas the single-copy T-DNA frequency was only 11% for both vectors in the wild-type background. Both resolution strategies yielded mostly Cre transformants in which the 35S-driven transgene expression was stable and uniform in the progeny and remarkably, also in Cre transformants with multiple T-DNA copies. Therefore, a role is proposed for the CRE recombinase in preventing inverted T-DNA repeat formation or modifying the locus chromatin structure, resulting in a reduced sensitivity for silencing.

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