Both sense and antisense RNAs are targets for the sense transgene-induced posttranscriptional silencing mechanism
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Two stable transgenic tobacco lines were obtained as segregants from a primary transformant. Plants homozygous for a T-DNA inverted repeat locus (HOlo1) showed posttranscriptional gene silencing (PTGS) of the neomycin phosphotransferase II (nptII) transgenes, whereas HOlo2 plants, homozygous for a single T-DNA insert, expressed the nptII genes normally. Transient expression of nptII genes newly introduced into leaves of both the HOlo2 and nptII-silenced HOlo1 plants was downregulated only in the silenced background. Different chimeric β-glucuronidase (gus) genes with parts of the nptII transgene inserted in sense or antisense orientation into the 3′-untranslated region, which encoded transcripts that had homology or complementarity to nptII transcripts, showed reduced transient expression specifically in nptII-silenced tissue. Therefore, we conclude that RNAs of both polarities are targets for PTGS-induced RNA degradation, which supports the notion that double-stranded RNA acts as an inducing signal for silencing.
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