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EMBO J. 2001 Nov 15;20(22):6550-8.

Non-homologous end-joining proteins are required for Agrobacterium T-DNA integration.

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Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences, Leiden University, Clusius Laboratory, Wassenaarseweg 64, 2333 AL, Leiden, The Netherlands.


Agrobacterium tumefaciens causes crown gall disease in dicotyledonous plants by introducing a segment of DNA (T-DNA), derived from its tumour-inducing (Ti) plasmid, into plant cells at infection sites. Besides these natural hosts, Agrobacterium can deliver the T-DNA also to monocotyledonous plants, yeasts and fungi. The T-DNA integrates randomly into one of the chromosomes of the eukaryotic host by an unknown process. Here, we have used the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a T-DNA recipient to demonstrate that the non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) proteins Yku70, Rad50, Mre11, Xrs2, Lig4 and Sir4 are required for the integration of T-DNA into the host genome. We discovered a minor pathway for T-DNA integration at the telomeric regions, which is still operational in the absence of Rad50, Mre11 or Xrs2, but not in the absence of Yku70. T-DNA integration at the telomeric regions in the rad50, mre11 and xrs2 mutants was accompanied by gross chromosomal rearrangements.

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