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Funct Integr Genomics. 2004 Oct;4(4):258-66. Epub 2004 May 20.

Activation tagging in plants: a tool for gene discovery.

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Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh, King's Buildings, EH9 3JH, Edinburgh, UK.


A significant limitation of classical loss-of-function screens designed to dissect genetic pathways is that they rarely uncover genes that function redundantly, are compensated by alternative metabolic or regulatory circuits, or which have an additional role in early embryo or gametophyte development. Activation T-DNA tagging is one approach that has emerged in plants to help circumvent these potential problems. This technique utilises a T-DNA sequence that contains four tandem copies of the cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) 35S enhancer sequence. This element enhances the expression of neighbouring genes either side of the randomly integrated T-DNA tag, resulting in gain-of-function phenotypes. Activation tagging has identified a number of genes fundamental to plant development, metabolism and disease resistance in Arabidopsis. This review provides selected examples of these discoveries to highlight the utility of this technology. The recent development of activation tagging strategies for other model plant systems and the construction of new more sophisticated vectors for the generation of conditional alleles are also discussed. These recent advances have significantly expanded the horizons for gain-of-function genetics in plants.

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