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Reduced Position Effect in Mature Transgenic Plants Conferred by the Chicken Lysozyme Matrix-Associated Region

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Abstract

Matrix-associated regions may be useful for studying the role of chromatin architecture in transgene activity of transformed plants. The chicken lysozyme A element was shown to have specific affinity for tobacco nuclear matrices, and its influence on the variability of transgene expression in tobacco plants was studied. T-DNA constructs in which this element flanked either the β-glucuronidase (GUS) reporter gene or both reporter and selection gene were introduced in tobacco. The variation in GUS gene activity was reduced significantly among mature first-generation transgenic plants carrying the A element. Average GUS activity became somewhat higher, but the maximum attainable level of gene expression was similar for all three constructs. Transient gene expression assays showed that the A element did not contain general enhancer functions; therefore, its presence seemed to prevent the lower levels of transgene expression. The strongest reduction in variability was found in plants transformed with the construct carrying the A elements at the borders of the T-DNA. In this population, expression levels became copy number dependent. The presence of two A elements in the T-DNA did not interfere with meiosis.

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