, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 223-234

Structure and expression of DNA transferred to tobacco via transformation of protoplasts with Ti-plasmid DNA: co-transfer of T-DNA and non T-DNA sequences

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The T-DNA structure and organization in tissues obtained via transformation of tobacco protoplasts with Ti-plasmid DNA was found to be completely different from the T-DNA introduced via Agrobacterium tumefaciens. It is often fragmented. Overlapping copies of T-DNA, having various sizes, as well as separated fragments of T-DNA were detected. The border sequences of 23 basepairs (bp), flanking the T-region in the Ti-plasmid as direct repeats are not used as preferred sequences for integration. Similar results were obtained with a T-region clone lacking one of the TL-borders. This clone, which carried the cytokinin locus and only the right border sequence of TL and the left border sequence of TR, still had the capacity to transform protoplasts. Also the Vir-region of the Ti-plasmid is not required for integration of foreign DNA via DNA transformation. This is demonstrated by the results with the T-region clone mentioned and by the transforming capacity of a Ti-plasmid carrying a mutated Vir-region. Nevertheless, in a number of Ti-plasmid DNA transformants Vir-region fragments were found to be stably integrated. Furthermore, it has been established that co-transformation can occur with plant cells. Besides the detection of Ti-plasmid fragments from outside the T-region also DNA sequences originating from two DNA sources, which were both independently present in transformation experiments, have been found in some DNA transformants, e.g. calf thymus DNA, which was used as carrier DNA. No expression of the co-transferred DNA was observed. In total three phenotypical classes of DNA transformants were isolated. Although the T-DNA was often scrambled, polyA+ mRNA studies indicated that the different phenotypes studied can be explained by the presence of active T-DNA genes with known functions.