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Plant Cell Rep. 2003 Mar;21(7):676-83. Epub 2003 Feb 12.

Gene silencing in transgenic soybean plants transformed via particle bombardment.

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Department of Agronomy, N109 Agriculture Science Center Building North, University of Kentucky, KY 40546-0091, Lexington, USA.


Transgenes are susceptible to silencing in plants especially when multiple copies of the gene of interest are introduced. Transgenic plants derived by particle bombardment, which is the common method for transforming soybean, have a tendency to have multiple integration events. Three independent transgenic soybean plants obtained via particle bombardment were analyzed for transgene silencing. A GUS transgenic soybean line had at least 100 copies of the GUS gene while there were approximately 60 copies of the transgene in the two soybean lines transformed with a 15-kDa zein storage protein gene from maize. Soybean plants transformed with the GUS gene showed variable GUS expression. The coding region and promoter of the GUS gene in the plants with low expression of GUS were heavily methylated. Variability in GUS expression was observed in the progeny of the high expressors in the T(2) and T(3) generations as well. Expression level of the 15-kDa zein gene in transgenic soybean plants showed correlation with the level of transgene methylation. The helper component-proteinase from potyviruses is known to suppress post-transcriptional gene silencing. Transgenic plants were inoculated with the soybean mosaic potyvirus (SMV) to test possible effects on transgene silencing in soybean. Infection with SMV did not suppress transgene silencing in these plants and suggests that the silencing in these plants may not be due to post-transcriptional gene silencing.

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