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High throughput generation of promoter reporter (GFP) transgenic lines of low expressing genes in Arabidopsis and analysis of their expression patterns

Yong-Li Xiao, Julia C Redman, Erin L Monaghan, Jun Zhuang, Beverly A Underwood, William A Moskal, Wei Wang, Hank C Wu and Christopher D Town*

Author Affiliations

J. Craig Venter Institute, 9704 Medical Center Drive, Rockville, MD 20850, USA

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Plant Methods 2010, 6:18  doi:10.1186/1746-4811-6-18

Published: 6 August 2010



Although the complete genome sequence and annotation of Arabidopsis were released at the end of year 2000, it is still a great challenge to understand the function of each gene in the Arabidopsis genome. One way to understand the function of genes on a genome-wide scale is expression profiling by microarrays. However, the expression level of many genes in Arabidopsis genome cannot be detected by microarray experiments. In addition, there are many more novel genes that have been discovered by experiments or predicted by new gene prediction programs. Another way to understand the function of individual genes is to investigate their in vivo expression patterns by reporter constructs in transgenic plants which can provide basic information on the patterns of gene expression.


A high throughput pipeline was developed to generate promoter-reporter (GFP) transgenic lines for Arabidopsis genes expressed at very low levels and to examine their expression patterns in vivo. The promoter region from a total of 627 non- or low-expressed genes in Arabidopsis based on Arabidopsis annotation release 5 were amplified and cloned into a Gateway vector. A total of 353 promoter-reporter (GFP) constructs were successfully transferred into Agrobacterium (GV3101) by triparental mating and subsequently used for Arabidopsis transformation. Kanamycin-resistant transgenic lines were obtained from 266 constructs and among them positive GFP expression was detected from 150 constructs. Of these 150 constructs, multiple transgenic lines exhibiting consistent expression patterns were obtained for 112 constructs. A total 81 different regions of expression were discovered during our screening of positive transgenic plants and assigned Plant Ontology (PO) codes.


Many of the genes tested for which expression data were lacking previously are indeed expressed in Arabidopsis during the developmental stages screened. More importantly, our study provides plant researchers with another resource of gene expression information in Arabidopsis. The results of this study are captured in a MySQL database and can be searched at webcite. Transgenic seeds and constructs are also available for the research community.