As a part of a project to develop a plant-made plague vaccine, we expressed the Yersinia pestis F1-V antigen fusion protein in tomato. We discovered that in some of these plants the expression of the f1-v gene was undetectable in leaves and fruit by ELISA, even though they had multiple copies of f1-v according to Southern-blot analysis. A likely explanation of these results is the phenomenon of RNA silencing, a group of RNA-based processes that produces sequence-specific inhibition of gene expression and may result in transgene silencing in plants. Here we report the reversion of the f1-v gene silencing in transgenic tomato plants through two different mechanisms. In the P19-dependent Reversion or Type I, the viral suppressor of gene silencing, P19, induces the reversion of gene silencing. In the P19-independent Reversion or Type II, the f1-v gene expression is restored after the substantial loss of gene copies as a consequence of transgene segregation in the progeny. The transient and stable expression of the p19 gene driven by a constitutive promoter as well as an ethanol inducible promoter induced a P19-dependent reversion of f1-v gene silencing. In particular, the second generation plant 3D1.6 had the highest P19 protein levels and correlated with the highest F1-V protein accumulation, almost a three-fold increase of F1-V protein levels in fruit than that previously reported for the non-silenced F1-V elite tomato lines. These results confirm the potential exploitation of P19 to substantially increase the expression of value-added proteins in plants.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 5, 2008
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