Transfer of Agrobacterium DNA to Plants Requires a T-DNA Border But Not the virE Locus

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Science  14 Feb 1986:
Vol. 231, Issue 4739, pp. 725-727
DOI: 10.1126/science.231.4739.725


Agrobacterium tumefaciens induces tumors in plants by transferring and integrating oncogenes (T-DNA) into the chromosomes of host plant cells. Agrobacterium strains were used to transfer complementary DNA copies of a potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTV) to plant cells at a wound site on tomato plant stems. Subsequently, infectious viroid RNA was found in the leaves of these plants, indicating systemic PSTV infection. This process utilized the T-DNA transfer mechanisms of Agrobacterium since PSTV infection required most virulence genes (vir) as well as one of the DNA sequences that flank either side of the Agrobacterium T-DNA. However, transfer still occurred from virE mutants of Agrobacterium, strains that fail to induce tumors even though a completely functional T-DNA is present. The virE gene seems to be directly involved in the integration of foreign DNA into plant chromosomes.

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