, Volume 59, Issue 1, pp 205-219

Modification of Endogenous Natural Genes by Gene Targeting in Rice and Other Higher Plants

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The capability to modify a genomic sequence into a designed sequence is a powerful tool for biologists and breeders to elucidate the function of an individual gene and its cis-acting elements of multigene families in the genome. Gene targeting refers to the alteration of a specific DNA sequence in an endogenous gene at its original locus in the genome. In higher plants, however, the overwhelming occurrence of the random integration of transgenes by non-homologous end-joining is the main obstacle to develop efficient gene targeting. Two approaches have been undertaken to modify a genomic sequence in higher plants– chimeric RNA/DNA oligonucleotide-directed gene targeting to generate a site-specific base conversion, and homologous recombination-dependent gene targeting to produce either a base change or a gene replacement in a sequence-specific manner. The successful and reproducible targeting of an endogenous gene by homologous recombination, independently of gene-specific selection by employing a strong positive-negative selection, has been demonstrated for the first time in rice, an important staple food and a model plant for other cereal species. This review addresses the current status of targeting of an endogenous natural gene in rice and other higher plants and discusses possible models for Agrobacterium- mediated gene targeting by homologous recombination using a strong positive–negative selection.