Expression of RNA-Interference/Antisense Transgenes by the Cognate Promoters of Target Genes Is a Better Gene-Silencing Strategy to Study Gene Functions in Rice
Antisense and RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated gene silencing systems are powerful reverse genetic methods for studying gene function. Most RNAi and antisense experiments used constitutive promoters to drive the expression of RNAi/antisense transgenes; however, several reports showed that constitutive promoters were not expressed in all cell types in cereal plants, suggesting that the constitutive promoter systems are not effective for silencing gene expression in certain tissues/organs. To develop an alternative method that complements the constitutive promoter systems, we constructed RNAi and/or antisense transgenes for four rice genes using a constitutive promoter or a cognate promoter of a selected rice target gene and generated many independent transgenic lines. Genetic, molecular, and phenotypic analyses of these RNAi/antisense transgenic rice plants, in comparison to previously-reported transgenic lines that silenced similar genes, revealed that expression of the cognate promoter-driven RNAi/antisense transgenes resulted in novel growth/developmental defects that were not observed in transgenic lines expressing constitutive promoter-driven gene-silencing transgenes of the same target genes. Our results strongly suggested that expression of RNAi/antisense transgenes by cognate promoters of target genes is a better gene-silencing approach to discovery gene function in rice.
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