The alc-GR System. A Modified alc Gene Switch Designed for Use in Plant Tissue Culture1[w]


American Society of Plant Biologists


The ALCR/alcA (alc) two-component, ethanol-inducible gene expression system provides stringent control of transgene expression in genetically modified plants. ALCR is an ethanol-activated transcription factor that can drive expression from the ALCR-responsive promoter (alcA). However, the alc system has been shown to have constitutive expression when used in plant callus or cell suspension cultures, possibly resulting from endogenous inducer produced in response to lowered oxygen availability. To widen the use of the alc system in plant cell culture conditions, the receptor domain of the rat glucocorticoid receptor (GR) was translationally fused to the C terminus of ALCR to produce ALCR-GR, which forms the basis of a glucocorticoid-inducible system (alc-GR). The alc-GR switch system was tested in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) Bright Yellow-2 suspension cells using a constitutively expressed ALCR-GR with four alternative alcA promoter-driven reporter genes: β-glucuronidase, endoplasmic reticulum-targeted green fluorescent protein, haemagglutinin, and green fluorescent protein-tagged Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) Arath;CDKA;1 cyclin-dependent kinase. Gene expression was shown to be stringently dependent on the synthetic glucocorticoid dexamethasone and, in cell suspensions, no longer required ethanol for induction. Thus, the alc-GR system allows tight control of alcA-driven genes in cell culture and complements the conventional ethanol switch used in whole plants.

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