RNA silencing is an epigenetic inhibition of gene expression and is guided by small interfering RNAs. Sense transgene-induced post-transcriptional gene silencing (S-PTGS) occurs in a portion of a transgenic plant population. When a sense transgene encoding a tobacco endoplasmic reticulum ω-3 fatty acid desaturase (NtFAD3) was introduced into tobacco plants, an S-PTGS line, S44, was obtained. Introduction of another copy of the NtFAD3 transgene into S44 plants caused a phenotypic change from S-PTGS to overexpression. Because this change was associated with the methylation of the promoter sequences of the transgene, reduced transcriptional activity may abolish S-PTGS and residual transcription of the sense transgene may account for the overexpression. To clarify whether RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM) can repress the transcriptional activity of the S44 transgene locus, we introduced several RdDM constructs targeting the transgene promoter. An RdDM construct harboring a 200-bp-long fragment of promoter sequences efficiently abrogated the generation of NtFAD3 small interfering RNAs in S44 plants. Transcription of the transgene was partially repressed, but the resulting NtFAD3 mRNAs successfully accumulated and an overexpressed phenotype was established. Our results indicate an example in which overexpression of the transgene is established by complex epigenetic interactions among the transgenic loci.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology