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Plant Physiol. 2007 Dec;145(4):1272-81. Epub 2007 Aug 31.

pSAT RNA interference vectors: a modular series for multiple gene down-regulation in plants.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.


RNA interference (RNAi) is a powerful tool for functional gene analysis, which has been successfully used to down-regulate the levels of specific target genes, enabling loss-of-function studies in living cells. Hairpin (hp) RNA expression cassettes are typically constructed on binary plasmids and delivered into plant cells by Agrobacterium-mediated genetic transformation. Realizing the importance of RNAi for basic plant research, various vectors have been developed for RNAi-mediated gene silencing, allowing the silencing of single target genes in plant cells. To further expand the collection of available tools for functional genomics in plant species, we constructed a set of modular vectors suitable for hpRNA expression under various constitutive promoters. Our system allows simple cloning of the target gene sequences into two distinct multicloning sites and its modular design provides a straightforward route for replacement of the expression cassette's regulatory elements. More importantly, our system was designed to facilitate the assembly of several hpRNA expression cassettes on a single plasmid, thereby enabling the simultaneous suppression of several target genes from a single vector. We tested the functionality of our new vector system by silencing overexpressed marker genes (green fluorescent protein, DsRed2, and nptII) in transgenic plants. Various combinations of hpRNA expression cassettes were assembled in binary plasmids; all showed strong down-regulation of the reporter genes in transgenic plants. Furthermore, assembly of all three hpRNA expression cassettes, combined with a fourth cassette for the expression of a selectable marker, resulted in down-regulation of all three different marker genes in transgenic plants. This vector system provides an important addition to the plant molecular biologist's toolbox, which will significantly facilitate the use of RNAi technology for analyses of multiple gene function in plant cells.

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