Elucidation of the functions of genes central to diterpene metabolism in tobacco trichomes using posttranscriptional gene silencing.
The functions of two key, trichome-expressed genes were assessed using different posttranscriptional gene silencing strategies (PTGS). Efficient RNA interference (RNAi) revealed the function of a cembratriene-ol (CBT-ol) cyclase gene responsible for conversion of geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate to CBT-ols, and verified the function of a P450 gene responsible for conversion of CBT-ols to CBT-diols. CBT-diols are abundant diterpenes that comprise about 60% and 10% of trichome exudate weight and leaf dry weight, respectively, in Nicotiana tabacum, T.I. 1068. The relative efficiencies and levels of suppression using antisense (AS), sense co-suppression (S), and RNAi were compared for these two genes. With a partial cDNA of the P450 gene, the suppression efficiencies (percent of primary transformants with high CBT-ols/CBT-diols) were low, 3.3% for AS and 0% for S plants. In contrast, using RNAi with a partial gene sequence, a knockdown efficiency of about 45% was achieved. For the CBT-ol cyclase gene, no suppression was observed using partial cDNAs in AS or S orientations, while RNAi with a partial gene sequence yielded an efficiency of about 64%. The efficiencies of gene silencing using full-length coding regions of both genes in AS and S orientations were
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