Constitutive versus seed specific expression in transgenic wheat: temporal and spatial control

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Abstract

Transgenic wheat plants from specific cultivars can now be routinely engineered in many laboratories. However, our understanding of the factors controlling transgene expression and stability in wheat compared to other cereals is rather limited. Only a few promoters have been tested in transgenic wheat, and relatively little is known of their relative activities and expression parameters. In the present study, the spatial and temporal properties of one heterologous constitutive promoter and one seed-specific wheat promoter were investigated. We generated constructs with the reporter gene gusA (β-glucuronidase) driven by: (a) the constitutive maize ubiquitin-1 (ubi-1) promoter, and (b) two different-sized fragments of the seed-specific low molecular weight glutenin (LMWG1D1) promoter from wheat. The activities of all three promoter constructs were comparable in endosperm tissue. A detailed analysis of spatial and temporal properties of the promoters is described. Heat shock treatment of transgenic plants carrying the ubi-1: gusA construct resulted in a significant elevation in the levels of GUS activity. The inheritance of transgene expression levels and stability was evaluated over four generations, as a function of transgene integration patterns and copy number.

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