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A non-autonomous insect piggyBac transposable element is mobile in tobacco

Eric T. Johnson, Patrick F. Dowd
Molecular genetics and genomics 2014 v.289 no.5 pp. 895-902
Nicotiana tabacum, crossing, gene expression, genetically modified organisms, insect viruses, insects, mutagenesis, plasmids, progeny, tobacco, transposition (genetics), transposons
The piggyBac transposable element, originally isolated from a virus in an insect cell line, is a valuable molecular tool for transgenesis and mutagenesis of invertebrates. For heterologous transgenesis in a variety of mammals, transfer of the piggyBac transposable element from an ectopic plasmid only requires expression of piggyBac transposase. To determine if piggyBac could function in dicotyledonous plants, a two-element system was developed in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) to test for transposable element excision and insertion. The first transgenic line constitutively expressed piggyBac transposase, while the second transgenic line contained at least two non-autonomous piggyBac transposable elements. Progeny from crosses of the two transgenic lines was analyzed for piggyBac excision and transposition. Several progeny displayed excision events, and all the sequenced excision sites exhibited evidence of the precise excision mechanism characteristic of piggyBac transposase. Two unique transposition insertion events were identified that each included diagnostic duplication of the target site. These data indicate that piggyBac transposase is active in a dicotyledonous plant, although at a low frequency.