Grafting experiments have revealed that transgenic plants that undergo co-suppression of homologous transgenes and endogenous genes or PTGS of exogenous transgenes produce a sequence-specific systemic silencing signal that is able to propagate from cell to cell and at long distance. Similarly, infection of transgenic plants by viruses that carry (part of) a transgene sequence results in global silencing (VIGS) of the integrated transgenes although viral infection is localized. Systemic PTGS and VIGS strongly resemble recovery from virus infection in non-transgenic plants, leading to protection against secondary infection in newly emerging leaves and PTGS of transiently expressed homologous transgenes. The sequence-specific PTGS signal is probably a transgene product (for example, aberrant RNA) or a secondary product (for example, RNA molecules produced by an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase with transgene RNA as a matrix) that mimics the type of viral RNA that is targeted for degradation by cellular defence. Whether some particular cases of transgene TGS could also rely on the production of such a mobile molecule is discussed.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 16, 2004
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