Characterisation of T-DNA loci and vector backbone sequences in transgenic wheat produced by Agrobacterium-mediated transformation
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Detailed molecular characterisation of transgene loci is a requirement for gaining regulatory approval for environmental release of genetically modified crops. In cereals, it is generally accepted that Agrobacterium-mediated transformation generates cleaner transgene loci with lower copy number and fewer rearrangements than those generated by biolistics. However, in wheat there has been little detailed analysis of T-DNA insertions at genetic and molecular level. Wheat lines transformed using Agrobacterium tumefaciens with bar and gusA (GUS) genes were subjected to genetic and molecular analysis. Unlike previous studies of transgene loci in wheat, we used functional assays for PAT and GUS proteins, combined with PCR and Southern analysis to detect the presence, copy number, linkage and transmission of two transgenes inserted in the same T-DNA. Thirty-four independent transgenic lines were categorised into three types: type I events (38% of total) where the gusA and bar genes displayed complete genetic linkage, segregating together as a single functional locus at the expected ratio of 3:1; type II events (18%), which possessed two or more transgene loci each containing gusA and bar; and type III events (44%), containing an incomplete T-DNA in which either the gusA or bar gene was lost. Most lines in this last category had lost the bar gene situated near the left T-DNA border. Southern analysis indicated that 30% of all lines possessed a single T-DNA copy containing gusA and bar. However, when data on expression and molecular analysis are combined, only 23% of all lines have single copy T-DNAs in which both gene cassettes are functioning. We also report on the presence of plasmid backbone DNA sequence in transgene loci detected using primer pairs outside the left and right T-DNA borders and within the plasmid selectable marker (NptI) gene. Approximately two thirds of the lines contained some vector backbone DNA, more frequently adjacent to the left border. Taken together, these data imply unstable left border function causing premature T-strand termination or read-through into vector backbone. As far as we are aware, this is the first report revealing near border T-DNA truncation and vector backbone integration in wheat transgenic lines produced by Agrobacterium-mediated transformation.
KeywordsAgrobacterium Copy number T-DNA Cereals Vector backbone Transgenic wheat
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