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Genetics. 1997 Sep;147(1):315-20.

Dissection of a synthesized quantitative trait to characterize transgene interactions.

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Department of Molecular Biology, CPRO-DLO, Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Six transgenic tobacco lines, each homozygous for the beta-glucuronidase (GUS) gene at a different locus, and wild type were selfed and intercrossed to evaluate GUS activity in all possible hemizygous, homozygous and dihybrid combinations of GUS alleles. The transgenic lines are characterized by their GUS activity (two low, three intermediate, one high), T-DNA complexity (four single-copy, two more complex single-locus) and the presence of the chicken lysozyme matrix-associated region (MAR) around the full T-DNA (two lines). Gene action and interaction was analyzed by weighted linear regression with parameters for additivity, dominance and epistasis. The analysis showed that each of the four single-copy lines acted fully additively. In contrast, the two complex single-locus lines showed classical single-locus overdominance and were epistatic dominant over all other GUS alleles. The latter is manifested in severe suppression of GUS activity in dihybrid lines, irrespective of the presence of MAR elements around the GUS gene. Such elements apparently do not protect against epistatic dominance. The quantitative data suggested that the epistatic dominance and overdominance are based on the same molecular mechanism. Our approach of a genetic analysis of quantitative variation in well-characterized transgenic lines provides a powerful tool to gain insight into complex plant traits.

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