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Free Content Silencing of the major family of NBS–LRR-encoding genes in lettuce results in the loss of multiple resistance specificities

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Summary

The RGC2 gene cluster in lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is one of the largest known families of genes encoding nucleotide binding site–leucine-rich repeat (NBS–LRR) proteins. One of its members, RGC2B, encodes Dm3 which determines resistance to downy mildew caused by the oomycete Bremia lactucae carrying the cognate avirulence gene, Avr3. We developed an efficient strategy for analysis of this large family of low expressed genes using post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS). We transformed lettuce cv. Diana (carrying Dm3) using chimeric gene constructs designed to simultaneously silence RGC2B and the GUS reporter gene via the production of interfering hairpin RNA (ihpRNA). Transient assays of GUS expression in leaves accurately predicted silencing of both genes and were subsequently used to assay silencing in transgenic T1 plants and their offspring. Levels of mRNA were reduced not only for RGC2B but also for all seven diverse RGC2 family members tested. We then used the same strategy to show that the resistance specificity encoded by the genetically defined Dm18 locus in lettuce cv. Mariska is the result of two resistance specificities, only one of which was silenced by ihpRNA derived from RGC2B. Analysis of progeny from crosses between transgenic, silenced tester stocks and lettuce accessions carrying other resistance genes previously mapped to the RGC2 locus indicated that two additional resistance specificities to B. lactucae, Dm14 and Dm16, as well as resistance to lettuce root aphid (Pemphigus bursarius L.), Ra, are encoded by RGC2 family members.
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Keywords: RNAi; downy mildew; insect; oomycete; root aphid; transient expression

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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