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Arch Virol. 1999;144(7):1345-60.

Generation of maize cell lines containing autonomously replicating maize streak virus-based gene vectors.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa.


Virion sense gene replacement derivatives of maize streak virus (MSV) were constructed with selectable marker expression cassettes based on the bialaphos resistance gene (bar) and the CaMV 35S promoter. The effect on replication of increasing the genomic size was tested by including: (1) the 550-bp maize adhI intron and 68-bp TMV omega RNA leader sequences upstream of the bar genes; and (2) a fusion between the bar and E. coli glutathione reductase (gor) genes. Three recombinant viral vectors ranging in size from 2.7 kb to 4.8 kb replicated efficiently in biolistically transfected cells of suspension cultured Black Mexican sweetcorn (BMS) cells. Deletions greater than 39 bp 3' of the stemloop sequence in the LIR adversely affected replicon release. Transformed bialaphos-resistant BMS cell lines were generated with all three vectors containing the bar gene: between 38 and 60% of cell lines contained replicating viral episomes. The replicons were structurally stable, replicated to copy numbers of over 500 per haploid genome, and were detected for more than one year after introduction. We noted significant enhancement of bar gene expression, both at the protein and RNA levels, associated with the presence of episomal vector DNA. The maize adhI intron and TMV omega RNA leader sequences did not seem to have a significant effect on bar gene expression from replicating constructs, although expression from controls was enhanced. The results suggest that MSV-based constructs would provide a useful system for long-term gene amplification in cereal cell culture systems.

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