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Suppression of O-methyltransferase gene by homologous sense transgene in quaking aspen causes red-brown wood phenotypes

Tsai, C.J., Popko, J.L., Mielke, M.r., Hu, W.J., Podila, G.K., Chiang, V.L.
Plant physiology 1998 v.117 no.1 pp. 101-112
sclerenchyma, chemical reactions, developmental stages, genes, phenotype, stems, gene expression, aldehydes, leaves, wood anatomy, genetic code, transcription (genetics), xylem, lignin, enzyme activity, biosynthesis, transgenic plants, biochemical pathways, homologous recombination, color, Populus tremuloides, transferases
Homologous sense suppression of a gene encoding lignin pathway caffeic acid O-methyltransferase (CAOMT) in the xylem of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) resulted in transgenic plants exhibiting novel phenotypes with either mottled or complete red-brown coloration in their woody stems. These phenotypes appeared in all independent transgenic lines regenerated with a sense CAOMT construct but were absent from all plants produced with antisense CAOMT. The CAOMT sense transgene expression was undetectable, and the endogenous CAOMT transcript levels and enzyme activity were reduced in the xylem of some transgenic lines. In contrast, the sense transgene conferred overexpression of CAOMT and significant CAOMT activity in all of the transgenic plants' leaves and sclerenchyma, where normally the expression of the endogenous CAOMT gene is negligible. Thus, our results support the notion that the occurrence of sense cosuppression depends on the degree of sequence homology and endogene expression. Furthermore, the suppression of CAOMT in the xylem resulted in the incorporation of a higher amount of coniferyl aldehyde residues into the lignin in the wood of the sense plants. Characterization of the lignins isolated from these transgenic plants revealed that a high amount of coniferyl aldehyde is the origin of the red-brown coloration-- phenotype correlated with CAOMT-deficient maize (Zea mays L.) brown-midrib mutants.