Reversible inactivation of a foreign gene, hph, during the asexual cycle in Neurospora crassa transformants
- Cite this article as:
- Pandit, N.N. & Russo, V.E.A. Molec. Gen. Genet. (1992) 234: 412. doi:10.1007/BF00538700
A plasmid construct carrying the hygromycin phosphotransferase (hph) gene fused to the expression elements of the trpC gene of Aspergillus nidulans was used to obtain hygromycin B (Hyg)-resistant transformants of Neurospora crassa. The plasmid does not have any homology with the N. crassa genome. Here we demonstrate that most of the transformants arise from integration of the transforming DNA into only one of the nuclei present in the protoplasts. Furthermore, in most of the transformants the integrated transforming DNA is physically stable after growth of the transformants for about 25 nuclear divisions without Hyg selection, in spite of being present in multiple copies. In transformants carrying only a single insertion, phenotypic expression of the hph gene remains unaltered in conidial isolates obtained withoug Hyg selection. On the other hand, about 40% of transformants harbouring plasmid DNA integrated at more than one location yield conidial isolates showing reversible inactivation of the hph genes. Interestingly, the presence of methylated cytosine residues in the integrated DNA is strongly correlated with the number of plasmid copies. The hph genes are heavily methylated in transformants harbouring multiple copies but not in those harbouring only one copy of the plasmid. Phenotypic expression of the inactive hph genes can be restored by growing the transformants either under Hyg selection pressure or in the presence of 5-azacytidine. In the first case the hph genes are again inactivated when Hyg selection pressure is removed, while the activation of the hph gene by 5-azacytidine gives stable Hygr strains.