Plant Pathol J > Volume 24(3); 2008 > Article
The Plant Pathology Journal 2008;24(3):296-304.
DOI:    Published online September 30, 2008.
The Effect of Cucumber mosaic virus 2b Protein to Transient Expression and Transgene Silencing Mediated by Agro-infiltration
Min Sue Choi, In Sun Yoon, Yong Rhee, Seung Kook Choi, Sun Hyung Lim, So Youn Won, Yeon Hee Lee, Hong Soo Choi, Suk Chan Lee, Kook Hyung Kim, George Lomonossoff, Seong Han Sohn
The transient and rapid expression system of a foreign protein in planta is a very useful technique in biotechnology application. We have investigated optimum condition of Agrobacterium-infiltration technique in which expression level of foreign proteins were maximized without detrimental effects on plants using GFP and Cucumber mosaic virus 2b protein, which is known as an enhancer of gene expression and a suppressor of post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS). The optimum expression level of both RNA and protein of GFP with minimum leaf impairment was obtained at OD600=0.2 of Agrobactrium inocula. The steady-state levels of GFP RNA and protein generally peaked at 3 and 7 days post-infiltration (dpi), respectively. In the presence of 2b, both the magnitude and duration of GFP expression was highly increased and we could detect GFP level until 17 dpi. On the other hands, the 2b-mediated higher accumulation of foreign proteins resulted in the repression of normal leaf growth, possibly due to the limitation of supply of energy or materials required for growth maintenance. Using this Agrobacterium-infiltration system with 2b and GFP, we tested a hypothesis for the threshold model of PTGS initiation. Four GFP transgenic lines of N. benthamiana, which shows different expression level of GFP were tested to determine the threshold level for PTGS initiation. Agrobacterium-infiltration of GFP into those GFP-transgenic plants resulted in the co-silencing of the transgenic GFP. It was found that very low concentration of Agrobacterium with GFP and GFP+2b (OD600 =0.002-0.02) which could not phenotypically induce an additive GFP expression, was enough to trigger PTGS pathway in all GFP transgenic plants. This strongly indicates that each GFP-transgenic plant should be expressing the transgenic GFP at its own pre-determined level and there was no buffer zone of additive GFPexpression to the threshold. In other words, the PTGS seems to be immediately activated as a self-defensive mechanism if an internal balance of gene expression is broken.
Key Words: agro-infiltration, Cucumber mosaic virus 2b, GFP, post-transcriptional gene silencing

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