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Plant J. 2002 Nov;32(3):285-98.

Expression of the Arabidopsis histone H2A-1 gene correlates with susceptibility to Agrobacterium transformation.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1392, USA.


Transformation of plant cells by Agrobacterium tumefaciens involves both bacterial virulence proteins and host proteins. We have previously shown that the Arabidopsis thaliana gene H2A-1 (RAT5), which encodes histone H2A-1, is involved in T-DNA integration into the plant genome. Mutation of RAT5 results in a severely decreased frequency of transformation, whereas overexpression of RAT5 enhances the transformation frequency (Mysore et al., 2000b). We show here that the expression pattern of RAT5 correlates with plant root cells most susceptible to transformation. As opposed to a cyclin-GUS fusion gene whose expression is limited to meristematic tissues, the H2A-1 gene is expressed in many non-dividing cells. Under normal circumstances, the H2A-1 gene is expressed in the elongation zone of the root, the region that is most susceptible to Agrobacterium transformation. In addition, when roots are incubated on medium containing phytohormones, a concomitant shift in H2A-1 expression and transformation susceptibility to the root base is observed. Inoculation of root segments with a transfer-competent, but not a transformation-deficient Agrobacterium strain induces H2A-1 expression. Furthermore, pre-treatment of Arabidopsis root segments with phytohormones both induces H2A-1 expression and increases the frequency of Agrobacterium transformation. Our results suggest that the expression of the H2A-1 gene is both a marker for, and a predictor of, plant cells most susceptible to Agrobacterium transformation.

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