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Alexey S. Folimonov, Svetlana Y. Folimonova, William O. Dawson - Department of Plant Pathology, University of Florida, Citrus Research and Education Center, 700 Experiment Station Road, Lake Alfred, FL 33850, USA

Virus-based vectors are important tools in plant molecular biology and plant genomics. A number of vectors based on viruses that infect herbaceous plants are in use for expression or silencing of genes in plants as well as screening unknown sequences for function. Yet there is a need for useful virus-based vectors for woody plants, which demand much greater stability because of the longer time required for systemic infection and analysis. We examined several strategies to develop a Citrus tristeza virus (CTV)-based vector for transient expression of foreign genes in citrus trees using a green fluorescent protein (GFP) as a reporter. These strategies included substitution of the p13 open reading frame (ORF) by the ORF of GFP, construction of a self-processing fusion of GFP in-frame with the major coat protein (CP), or expression of the GFP ORF as an extra gene from a subgenomic (sg) mRNA controlled either by a duplicated CTV CP sgRNA controller element (CE) or an introduced heterologous CE of Beet yellows virus. Engineered vector constructs were examined for replication, encapsidation, GFP expression during multiple passages in protoplasts, and for their ability to infect, move, express GFP, and be maintained in citrus plants. The most successful vectors based on the ‘add-a-gene’ strategy have been unusually stable, continuing to produce GFP fluorescence after more than 4 years in citrus trees.

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A stable RNA virus-based vector for citrus trees
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Alexey S. Folimonov, Svetlana Y. Folimonova, William O. Dawson - Department of Plant Pathology, University of Florida, Citrus Research and Education Center, 700 Experiment Station Road, Lake Alfred, FL 33850, USA

A stable RNA virus-based vector for citrus trees

Virus-based vectors are important tools in plant molecular biology and plant genomics. A number of vectors based on viruses that infect herbaceous plants are in use for expression or silencing of genes in plants as well as screening unknown sequences for function. Yet there is a need for useful virus-based vectors for woody plants, which demand much greater stability because of the longer time required for systemic infection and analysis. We examined several strategies to develop a Citrus tristeza virus (CTV)-based vector for transient expression of foreign genes in citrus trees using a green fluorescent protein (GFP) as a reporter. These strategies included substitution of the p13 open reading frame (ORF) by the ORF of GFP, construction of a self-processing fusion of GFP in-frame with the major coat protein (CP), or expression of the GFP ORF as an extra gene from a subgenomic (sg) mRNA controlled either by a duplicated CTV CP sgRNA controller element (CE) or an introduced heterologous CE of Beet yellows virus. Engineered vector constructs were examined for replication, encapsidation, GFP expression during multiple passages in protoplasts, and for their ability to infect, move, express GFP, and be maintained in citrus plants. The most successful vectors based on the ‘add-a-gene’ strategy have been unusually stable, continuing to produce GFP fluorescence after more than 4 years in citrus trees.

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