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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Dec 27;102(52):19231-6.

Involvement of KU80 in T-DNA integration in plant cells.

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Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5215, USA.


In Agrobacterium-mediated genetic transformation of plant cells, the bacterium exports a well defined transferred DNA (T-DNA) fragment and a series of virulence proteins into the host cell. Following its nuclear import, the single-stranded T-DNA is stripped of its escorting proteins, most likely converts to a double-stranded (ds) form, and integrates into the host genome. Little is known about the precise mechanism of T-DNA integration in plants, and no plant proteins specifically associated to T-DNA have been identified. Here we report the direct involvement of KU80, a protein that binds dsT-DNA intermediates. We show that ku80-mutant Arabidopsis plants are defective in T-DNA integration in somatic cells, whereas KU80-overexpressing plants exhibit increased susceptibility to Agrobacterium infection and increased resistance to DNA-damaging agents. The direct interaction between dsT-DNA molecules and KU80 in planta was confirmed by immunoprecipitation of KU80 dsT-DNA complexes from Agrobacterium-infected plants. Transformation of KU80-overexpressing plants with two separate T-DNA molecules resulted in an increased rate of extrachromosomal T-DNA to T-DNA recombination, indicating that KU80 bridges between dsT-DNAs and double-strand breaks. This last result further supports the notion that integration of T-DNA molecules occurs through ds intermediates and requires active participation of the host's nonhomologous end-joining repair machinery.

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