Insertional inactivation of the tomato polygalacturonase gene

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The site-selected insertion (SSI) procedure was used to generate insertional knockout mutations in the gene for tomato polygalacturonase (PG), a critical enzyme in fruit ripening. Previously, it had been shown that the Dissociation (Ds) elements in a select group of tomato plants frequently inserted into PG, at least in somatic tissues. DNA isolated from pollen produced by progeny of these plants was screened by SSI to identify plants likely to transmit the insertions in PG to progeny. These results identified one family as likely candidate for yielding germinally transmitted insertions. Four thousand progeny were screened and five were found containing germinally transmitted Ds insertions in PG, one of which contained two Ds insertions in PG. The Ds elements were stabilized by genetically removing the transposase and four of the five insertions were recovered as homozygous in the next generation. Enzymatic analysis of fruit from these individuals demonstrated that there was at least a 1000-fold reduction in polygalacturonase levels in those plants bearing Ds insertions in PG exons. Individuals with modified PG sequences due to the sequence footprint, resulting from excision of the element, were identified using the single-strand conformational polymorphism (SSCP) method. Enzymatic analysis of fruit from a plant homozygous for one such excision allele showed a significant reduction in polygalacturonase activity. Since there is no transgenic material left in PG, this demonstrates the ability to modify a gene of commercial value in planta and subsequently removing all transgenic material.

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