Indexed on: 13 Jan '09Published on: 13 Jan '09Published in: Plant Physiology and Biochemistry
DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) are created either by DNA damaging reagents or in a programmed manner, for example during meiosis. Homologous recombination (HR) can be used to repair DSBs, a process vital both for cell survival and for genetic rearrangement during meiosis. In order to easily quantify this mechanism, a new HR reporter gene that is suitable for the detection of rare recombination events in high-throughput screens was developed in Arabidopsis thaliana. This reporter, pPNP, is composed of two mutated Pat genes and has also one restriction site for the meganuclease I-SceI. A functional Pat gene can be reconstituted by an HR event giving plants which are resistant to the herbicide glufosinate. The basal frequency of intra-chromosomal recombination is very low (10(-5)) and can be strongly increased by the expression of I-SceI which creates a DSB. Expression of I-SceI under the control of the 35S CaMV promoter dramatically increases HR frequency (10,000 fold); however the measured recombinant events are in majority somatic. In contrast only germinal recombination events were measured when the meganuclease was expressed from a floral-specific promoter. Finally, the reporter was used to test a dexamethasone inducible I-SceI which could produce up to 200x more HR events after induction. This novel inducible I-SceI should be useful in fundamental studies of the mechanism of repair of DSBs and for biotechnological applications.