The level of transgene expression often differs among independent transformants. This is generally ascribed to different integration sites of the transgene into the plant genome in each independently obtained transformant (position effect). It has been shown that in tobacco transformants expressing, for example, a cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) 35S promoter-driven β-glucuronidase (GUS) reporter gene, these position-induced quantitative differences among individual transformants were reduced by the introduction of matrix-associated regions (MAR elements) on the T-DNA. We have previously shown by imaging of in planta firefly luciferase (luc) reporter gene activity that quantitative differences in transgene activity can be the result of either a variation in (1) level, (2) spatial distribution and/or (3) temporal regulation of transgene expression between independent transformants. It is not known which of these three different aspects of transgene expression is affected when the transgene is flanked by MAR elements. Here we have used the firefly luciferase reporter system to analyse the influence of MAR elements on the activity of a CaMV 35S-luc transgene in a population of independently transformed tobacco plants. Imaging of in planta LUC activity in these tobacco plant populations showed that the presence of MAR elements does not result in less variation in the average level of transgene expression between individual transformants. This result is different from that obtained previously with a 35S-GUS reporter gene flanked by MAR elements and reflects the differences in the stability of the LUC and GUS reporter proteins. Also the variation in spatial patterns of in vivo LUC activity is not reduced between independent transformants when the transgene is flanked by MAR elements. However, MAR elements do seem to affect the variation in temporal regulation of transgene expression between individual transformants. The potential effects of MAR elements on the variability of transgene expression and the relation to the stability of the (trans)gene product are discussed.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 3, 2004
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