3 Biotech

, 8:198 | Cite as

An improved method for rapid analysis of promoters using modified sonication-assisted transient assay

  • Chetan Chauhan
  • Gauri Joshi
  • Darshna Chaudhary
  • Sandip Das
Original Article


We present here a modified, sonication-assisted transient transformation assay for rapid analysis of cis-regulatory elements. We tested promoter elements from MIR159B locus of Brassica juncea by generating stable transgenic lines and compared the transcriptional activity of GUS reporter with that of the transient assay method. To obtain reliable and repeatable results, and to omit false-positive data, we optimized several parameters including sonication duration and cycle and concentration of Agrobacterium tumefaciens measured as optical density (O.D.) at 600 nm. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of promoter characterization of MIR159B from Brassica juncea, and comparative analysis of stable and transient lines. Our analysis shows that the protocol described herein allows understanding promoter activity/transcriptional control in tissues other than leaf or protoplast which have remained the mainstay for transient analysis thus far. We tested reporter gene GUS under the control of constitutive promoter, CaMV 35S, and MIR159b from Brassica juncea. We optimized the duration of sonication (5-, 10- and 15-min cycle), bacterial density (measured as O.D at 600 nm = 0.6/0.8/1.0) and Agro-infection time (5, 10, 15 min), and co-cultivation (12-, and 24-h). Sonication cycle of 10-min, followed by Agro-infection and co-cultivation with Agrobacterium tumefaciens with O.D. 600 nm = 0.8 and for 12 h was found to be optimum. We could successfully express reporter genes in deep-seated tissues such as floral organs and pollen grains where it was previously not possible to perform transient assay. Constitutive GUS activity was observed when reporter was placed under control of the constitutive promoter of CaMV 35S. Reporter GUS when placed under transcriptional control of MIR159b promoter from Brassica juncea showed reporter activity in floral tissues, in mature pollen grains. Comparative analysis of reporter activity from stable transgenic lines at T2 generation with that of transient assay system reveals identical to near-identical reporter activity. Transient assay could be successfully performed in tissues collected not only from Arabidopsis thaliana, but also from Brassica juncea and Brassica nigra to demonstrate its wide applicability. Our modified method thus has the potential of quick and rapid analysis of promoter activity and allows us to record the developmental dynamics and spatio-temporal expression pattern driven by specific promoters. Suitable modification and controls should also allow analysis of hormonal regulation and identification of trans-factors via DNA–protein interactions. Furthermore, this method can also be extended to study promoters under various environmental conditions that otherwise do not allow growth and complete life cycle of healthy plants and can be modified to test reporter activity in other non-model plants or plants with long life cycle.


Sonication Promoter Transient assay Brassica MIR159 



The research was supported by a Department of Biotechnology, Govt. Of India (DBT) Grant (Grant number BT/PR14532/AGR/36/673/2010) to SD, and a DBT project Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) to CC. GJ is supported by JRF/SRF from the University Grants Commission (UGC). SD would also like to acknowledge the financial assistance received from Delhi University under the R&D grant support.

Author contributions

CC, DC and SD were involved in planning of the study. CC and GJ performed the experiments and collected data. CC, DC and SD analysed the data and wrote the manuscript. All authors have read and approved the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing interest that may be construed as conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

13205_2018_1219_MOESM1_ESM.tif (7.1 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (TIFF 7225 kb) Supplementary Figure 1: Comparative analysis of full-length 1.0 kb (Bj-p_159B-A06-1kb) and a 5’-nested deletion of 0.6kb (Bj-p_159B-A06-0.6) promoter driving GUS through transient and stable transgenic lines in flower and siliques of Arabidopsis thaliana reveals no reporter activity
13205_2018_1219_MOESM2_ESM.tif (4.8 mb)
Supplementary material 2 (TIFF 4872 kb) Supplementary Figure 2: Sonication-assisted transient assay can be used in Brassica species: Sonication-assisted transient expression analysis of CaMV35S promoter::GUS reporter was performed in unopened floral buds and open flowers of Brassica nigra which are not commonly used for transient assay using 10 minutes of sonication-rest-sonication cycle, 12 hours of co-cultivation with A. tumefaciens at O.D = 0.8. Scale bar represents 200 µm


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of DelhiDelhiIndia
  2. 2.Centre for BiotechnologyMaharshi Dayanand UniversityRohtakIndia

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