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Lenzi, P, Scotti N, Alagna F, Tornesello ML, Pompa A, Vitale A, De Stradis A, Monti L, Grillo S, Buonaguro FM et al..  2008.  Translational fusion of chloroplast-expressed human papillomavirus type 16 L1 capsid protein enhances antigen accumulation in transplastomic tobacco. Transgenic Research. 17:1091-102. AbstractWebsite
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the causal agent of cervical cancer, one of the most common causes of death for women. The major capsid L1 protein self-assembles in Virus Like Particles (VLPs), which are highly immunogenic and suitable for vaccine production. In this study, a plastid transformation approach was assessed in order to produce a plant-based HPV-16 L1 vaccine. Transplastomic plants were obtained after transformation with vectors carrying a chimeric gene encoding the L1 protein either as the native viral (L1(v) gene) or a synthetic sequence optimized for expression in plant plastids (L1(pt) gene) under control of plastid expression signals. The L1 mRNA was detected in plastids and the L1 antigen accumulated up to 1.5% total leaf proteins only when vectors included the 5'-UTR and a short N-terminal coding segment (Downstream Box) of a plastid gene. The half-life of the engineered L1 protein, determined by pulse-chase experiments, is at least 8 h. Formation of immunogenic VLPs in chloroplasts was confirmed by capture ELISA assay using antibodies recognizing conformational epitopes and by electron microscopy.
Lutz, KA, Maliga P.  2008.  Plastid genomes in a regenerating tobacco shoot derive from a small number of copies selected through a stochastic process. Plant J.. 56:975-83. AbstractWebsite
The plastid genome (ptDNA) of higher plants is highly polyploid, and the 1000-10 000 copies are compartmentalized with up to approximately 100 plastids per cell. The problem we address here is whether or not a newly arising genome can be established in a developing tobacco shoot, and be transmitted to the seed progeny. We tested this by generating two unequal ptDNA populations in a cultured tobacco cell. The parental tobacco plants in this study have an aurea (yellowish-golden) leaf color caused by the presence of a bar(au) gene in the ptDNA. In addition, the ptDNA carries an aadA gene flanked with the phiC31 phage site-specific recombinase (Int) attP/attB target sites. The genetically distinct ptDNA copies were obtained by Int, which either excised only the aadA marker gene (i.e. did not affect the aurea phenotype) or triggered the deletion of both the aadA and bar(au) transgenes, and thereby restored the green color. The ptDNA determining green plastids represented only a small fraction of the population and was not seen in a transient excision assay, and yet three out of the 53 regenerated shoots carried green plastids in all developmental layers. The remaining 49 Int-expressing plants had either exclusively aurea (24) or variegated (25) leaves with aurea and green sectors. The formation of homoplastomic green shoots with the minor green ptDNA in all developmental layers suggests that the ptDNA population in a regenerating shoot apical meristem derives from a small number of copies selected through a stochastic process.
Lutz, KA, Azhagiri AK, Tungsuchat-Huang T, Maliga P.  2007.  A guide to choosing vectors for transformation of the plastid genome of higher plants. Plant Physiol.. 145:1201-10. AbstractWebsite
Plastid transformation, originally developed in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), has recently been extended to a number of crop species enabling in vivo probing of plastid function and biotechnological applications. In this article we report new plastid vectors that enable insertion of transgenes in the inverted repeat region of the plastome between the trnV and 3'rps12 or trnI and trnA genes. Efficient recovery of transplastomic clones is ensured by selection for spectinomycin (aadA) or kanamycin (neo) resistance genes. Expression of marker genes can be verified using commercial antibodies that detect the accumulation of neomycin phosphotranseferase II, the neo gene product, or the C-terminal c-myc tag of aminoglycoside-3''-adenylytransferase, encoded by the aadA gene. Aminoglycoside-3''-adenylytransferase, the spectinomycin inactivating enzyme, is translationally fused with green fluorescent protein in two vectors so that transplastomic clones can be selected by spectinomycin resistance and visually identified by fluorescence in ultraviolet light. The marker genes in the new vectors are flanked by target sites for Cre or Int, the P1 and phiC31 phage site-specific recombinases. When uniform transformation of all plastid genomes is obtained, the marker genes can be excised by Cre or Int expressed from a nuclear gene. Choice of expression signals for the gene of interest, complications caused by the presence of plastid DNA sequences recognized by Cre, and loss of transgenes by homologous recombination via duplicated sequences are also discussed to facilitate a rational choice from among the existing vectors and to aid with new target-specific vector designs.
Lutz, KA, Azhagiri A, Maliga P.  2011.  Transplastomics in Arabidopsis: progress toward developing an efficient method. Methods in Molecular Biology. 774:133-47. AbstractWebsite
Protocols developed for plastome engineering in Nicotiana tabacum rely on biolistic delivery of the transforming DNA to chloroplasts in intact leaf tissue; integration of the foreign DNA into the plastid genome by homologous recombination via flanking plastid DNA (ptDNA) targeting regions; and gradual dilution of non-transformed ptDNA during cultivation in vitro. Plastid transformation in Arabidopsis was obtained by combining the tobacco leaf transformation protocol with Arabidopsis-specific tissue culture and plant regeneration protocols. Because the leaf cells in Arabidopsis are polyploid, this protocol yielded sterile plants. Meristematic cells in a shoot apex or cells of a developing embryo are diploid. Therefore, we developed a regulated embryogenic root culture system that will generate diploid tissue for plastid transformation. This embryogenic culture system is created by steroid-inducible expression of the BABY BOOM transcription factor. Plastid transformation in Arabidopsis will enable the probing of plastid gene function, and the characterization of posttranscriptional mechanisms of gene regulation and the regulatory interactions of plastid and nuclear genes.
Lutz, KA, Maliga P.  2007.  Construction of marker-free transplastomic plants. Current Opinion in Biotechnology. 18:107-14. AbstractWebsite
Because of its prokaryotic-type gene expression machinery, maternal inheritance and the opportunity to express proteins at a high level, the plastid genome (plastome or ptDNA) is an increasingly popular target for engineering. The ptDNA is present as up to 10,000 copies per cell, making selection for marker genes essential to obtain plants with uniformly transformed ptDNA. However, the marker gene is no longer desirable when homoplastomic plants are obtained. Marker-free transplastomic plants can now be obtained with four recently developed protocols: homology-based excision via directly repeated sequences, excision by phage site-specific recombinanses, transient cointegration of the marker gene, and the cotransformation-segregation approach. Marker excision technology will benefit applications in agriculture and in molecular farming.
Lutz, KA, Martin C, Khairzada S, Maliga P.  2015.  Steroid-inducible BABY BOOM system for development of fertile Arabidopsis thaliana plants after prolonged tissue culture. Plant Cell Rep. 34:1849-56. AbstractWebsite
KEY MESSAGE: We describe a steroid-inducible BABY BOOM system that improves plant regeneration in Arabidopsis leaf cultures and yields fertile plants. Regeneration of Arabidopsis thaliana plants for extended periods of time in tissue culture may result in sterile plants. We report here a novel approach for A. thaliana regeneration using a regulated system to induce embryogenic cultures from leaf tissue. The system is based on BABY BOOM (BBM), a transcription factor that turns on genes involved in embryogenesis. We transformed the nucleus of A. thaliana plants with BBM:GR, a gene in which the BBM coding region is fused with the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) steroid-binding domain. In the absence of the synthetic steroid dexamethasone (DEX), the BBM:GR fusion protein is localized in the cytoplasm. Only when DEX is included in the culture medium does the BBM transcription factor enter the nucleus and turn on genes involved in embryogenesis. BBM:GR plant lines show prolific shoot regeneration from leaf pieces on media containing DEX. Removal of DEX from the culture media allowed for flowering and seed formation. Therefore, use of BBM:GR leaf tissue for regeneration of plants for extended periods of time in tissue culture will facilitate the recovery of fertile plants.
Lutz, KA, Maliga P.  2007.  Transformation of the plastid genome to study RNA editing. Methods in Enzymology. 424:501-18. AbstractWebsite
In this chapter we provide an overview of cytosine-to-uridine (C-to-U) RNA editing in the plastids of higher plants. Particular emphasis will be placed on the role plastid transformation played in understanding the editing process. We discuss how plastid transformation enabled identification of mRNA cis elements for editing and gave the first insight into the role of editing trans factors. The introduction will be followed by a protocol for plastid transformation, including vector design employed to identify editing cis elements. We also discuss how to test RNA editing in vivo by cDNA sequencing. At the end, we summarize the status of the field and outline future directions.