Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Petunia mutant RL01 was transformed with maizeA1 and gerberagdfr cDNAs, which both encode dihydroflavonol-4-reductase (DFR) activity. The sameAgrobacterium vector and the same version of the CaMV 35S promoter were used in both experiments. Transformation with the cDNAs resulted in production of pelargonidin pigments in the transformants. However, theA1 andgdfr transformants showed clearly different phenotypes. The flowers of the primaryA1 transformants were pale and showed variability in pigmentation during their growth, while the flowers of thegdfr transformants showed intense and highly stable coloration. The color difference in the primary transformants was reflected in the expression levels of the transgenes as well as in the levels of anthocyanin pigment. As previously reported by others, the instability in pigmentation in theA1 transformants was more often detected in clones with multiple copies of the transgene and was associated with methylation of the 35S promoter and of the transgene cDNA itself. In thegdfr transformants, the most intense pigmentation was observed in plants with multiple transgenes in their genome. Only rarely was partial methylation of the 35S promoter detected, while thegdfr cDNA always remained in an unmethylated state. We conclude that the properties of the transgene itself strongly influence the inactivation process. The dicotyledonousgdfr cDNA with a lower GC content and fewer possible methylation sites is more ‘compatible’ the genomic organization of petunia and this prevents it being recognized as a foreign gene and hence silenced by methylation.
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