, Volume 69, Issue 6, pp 699-709

Targeted transgene integration in plant cells using designed zinc finger nucleases

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Abstract

Targeted transgene integration in plants remains a significant technical challenge for both basic and applied research. Here it is reported that designed zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) can drive site-directed DNA integration into transgenic and native gene loci. A dimer of designed 4-finger ZFNs enabled intra-chromosomal reconstitution of a disabled gfp reporter gene and site-specific transgene integration into chromosomal reporter loci following co-transformation of tobacco cell cultures with a donor construct comprised of sequences necessary to complement a non-functional pat herbicide resistance gene. In addition, a yeast-based assay was used to identify ZFNs capable of cleaving a native endochitinase gene. Agrobacterium delivery of a Ti plasmid harboring both the ZFNs and a donor DNA construct comprising a pat herbicide resistance gene cassette flanked by short stretches of homology to the endochitinase locus yielded up to 10% targeted, homology-directed transgene integration precisely into the ZFN cleavage site. Given that ZFNs can be designed to recognize a wide range of target sequences, these data point toward a novel approach for targeted gene addition, replacement and trait stacking in plants.