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Plant Biotechnol J. 2011 Feb;9(2):151-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7652.2010.00542.x.

Effective delivery of a nematode-repellent peptide using a root-cap-specific promoter.

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Centre for Plant Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.


The potential of the MDK4-20 promoter of Arabidopsis thaliana to direct effective transgenic expression of a secreted nematode-repellent peptide was investigated. Its expression pattern was studied in both transgenic Arabidopsis and Solanum tuberosum (potato) plants. It directed root-specific β-glucuronidase expression in both species that was chiefly localized to cells of the root cap. Use of the fluorescent timer protein dsRED-E5 established that the MDK4-20 promoter remains active for longer than the commonly used constitutive promoter CaMV35S in separated potato root border cells. Transgenic Arabidopsis lines that expressed the nematode-repellent peptide under the control of either AtMDK4-20 or CaMV35S reduced the establishment of the beet cyst nematode Heterodera schachtii. The best line using the AtMDK4-20 promoter displayed a level of resistance >80%, comparable to that of lines using the CaMV35S promoter. In transgenic potato plants, 94.9 ± 0.8% resistance to the potato cyst nematode Globodera pallida was achieved using the AtMDK4-20 promoter, compared with 34.4 ± 8.4% resistance displayed by a line expressing the repellent peptide from the CaMV35S promoter. These results establish the potential of the AtMDK4-20 promoter to limit expression of a repellent peptide whilst maintaining or even improving the efficacy of the cyst-nematode defence.

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