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Expression characterization of the herbicide tolerance gene Aryloxyalkanoate Dioxygenase (aad-1) controlled by seven combinations of regulatory elements

Delkin O. Gonzalez, Jeff B. Church, Andrew Robinson, James P. Connell, Megan Sopko, Boyd Rowland, Kristina Woodall, Cory M. Larsen, John P. Davies
BMC plant biology 2018 v.18 no.1 pp. 14
Sugarcane bacilliform virus, actin, corn, developmental stages, enzyme activity, gene expression, genes, genetically modified organisms, greenhouse production, herbicide resistance, herbicides, melons, plant health, regulatory sequences, rice, tissues, translation (genetics), ubiquitin
BACKGROUND: Availability of well characterized maize regulatory elements for gene expression in a variety of tissues and developmental stages provides effective alternatives for single and multigene transgenic concepts. We studied the expression of the herbicide tolerance gene aryloxyalkanoate dioxygenase (aad-1) driven by seven different regulatory element construct designs including the ubiquitin promoters of maize and rice, the actin promoters of melon and rice, three different versions of the Sugarcane Bacilliform Badnavirus promoters in association with other regulatory elements of gene expression. RESULTS: Gene expression of aad-1 was characterized at the transcript and protein levels in a collection of maize tissues and developmental stages. Protein activity against its target herbicide was characterized by herbicide dosage response. Although differences in transcript and protein accumulation were observed among the different constructs tested, all events were tolerant to commercially relevant rates of quizalafop-P-ethyl compared to non-traited maize under greenhouse conditions. DISCUSSION: The data reported demonstrate how different regulatory elements affect transcript and protein accumulation and how these molecular characteristics translate into the level of herbicide tolerance. The level of transcript detected did not reflect the amount of protein quantified in a particular tissue since protein accumulation may be influenced not only by levels of transcript produced but also by translation rate, post-translational regulation mechanisms and protein stability. The amount of AAD-1 enzyme produced with all constructs tested showed sufficient enzymatic activity to detoxify the herbicide and prevent most herbicidal damage at field-relevant levels without having a negative effect on plant health. CONCLUSIONS: Distinctive profiles of aad-1 transcript and protein accumulation were observed when different regulatory elements were utilized in the constructs under study. The ZmUbi and the SCBV constructs showed the most consistent robust tolerance, while the melon actin construct provided the lowest level of tolerance compared to the other regulatory elements used in this study. These data provide insights into the effects of differing levels of gene expression and how these molecular characteristics translate into the level of herbicide tolerance. Furthermore, these data provide valuable information to optimize future designs of single and multiple gene constructs for maize research and crop improvement.