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Curr Microbiol. 2002 May;44(5):309-13.

Transformation in heterokaryons of Neurospora crassa is nuclear rather than cellular phenomenon.

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Department of Biochemistry, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560 012, India.


In Neurospora crassa, multinucleate macroconidia are used for genetic transformation. The barrier for such a transformation can be either at the cell membrane level or at the nuclear membrane level. For assessment of these possibilities, a forced heterokaryon (containing two genetically marked nuclei and auxotrophic for histidine) of Neurospora crassa was transformed with a plasmid containing his-3+ gene. The transformants, which could grow without histidine supplementation, were then resolved into component homokaryons to determine into which nucleus or nuclei the plasmid had entered. Our results suggest that the barrier for transformation in Neurospora crassa is at the nuclear level, not at the cell membrane level. In a heterokaryon containing two genetically distinct nuclei, plasmid DNA integrated into only one of the nuclear types at any instance, but never into both nuclear types. Thus, in Neurospora crassa, the competent nucleus is essential for the transformation event to take place, and at a given time only one type of nucleus is competent to take up the exogenous DNA. Genomic Southern analysis showed that the transformants harbor both ectopic and homologous integrations of the plasmid DNA. The type and number of integrations were reflected at the post-translational level, since the specific activity of histidinol dehydrogenase (the translation product of his-3+ gene) was variable among several transformants and always less than the level of the wild type.

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