Site-specific integration of Agrobacterium T-DNA in Arabidopsis thaliana mediated by Cre recombinase

A C Vergunst, L E Jansen, P J Hooykaas
Nucleic Acids Research 1998 June 1, 26 (11): 2729-34
In this study Agrobacterium tumefaciens transferred DNA (T-DNA) was targeted to a chromosomally introduced lox site in Arabidopsis thaliana by employing the Cre recombinase system. To this end, Arabidopsis target lines were constructed which harboured an active chimeric promoter-lox-cre gene stably integrated in the plant genome. A T-DNA vector with a promoterless lox -neomycin phosphotransferase (nptII) fusion was targeted to this genomic lox site with an efficiency of 1.2-2.3% of the number of random events. Cre-catalyzed site-specific recombination resulted in restoration of nptII expression by translational fusion of the lox-nptII sequence in the integration vector with the transcription and translation initiation sequences present at the target site, allowing selective enrichment on medium containing kanamycin. Simultaneously, the coding sequence of the Cre recombinase was disconnected from these same transcription and translation initiation signals by displacement, aimed at preventing the efficient reversible excision reaction. Of the site-specific recombinants, 89% were the result of precise integration. Furthermore, approximately 50% of these integrants were single copy transformants, based on PCR analysis. Agrobacterium T-DNA, which is transferred to plant cells as a single-stranded linear DNA structure, is in principle incompatible with Cre-mediated integration. Nevertheless, the results presented here clearly demonstrate the feasibility of the Agrobacterium -mediated transformation system, which is generally used for transformation of plants, to obtain site-specific integration.

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