Gene fusions to lacZ reveal new expression patterns of chimeric genes in transgenic plants.

T. H. Teeri, H. Lehväslaiho, M. Franck, J. Uotila, P. Heino, E. T. Palva, M. Van Montagu, L. Herrera-Estrella

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100 Scopus citations


The lacZ gene of Escherichia coli, coding for beta-galactosidase, is a widely used reporter gene for gene expression studies in microbial and animal systems. To demonstrate that it is also a powerful reporter gene in plants, lacZ was fused to 5' regulatory elements of several genes known to be functional in plant cells. By measuring LacZ activities in transgenic plants containing these gene constructs, we showed that the reporter is correctly monitoring the regulatory properties of the well-characterized promoters fused to lacZ. beta-Galactosidase was assayed directly in plant extracts when they contained high levels of LacZ or, when LacZ was expressed at low level, by separating the endogenous and LacZ activities electrophoretically and detecting the enzymes with a fluorogenic substrate. The most outstanding property of the marker is its amenability to histochemical detection. Due to its stability, LacZ can be fixed in the tissue with glutaraldehyde without loss of activity and detected with high resolution by using XGal. We could reveal expression patterns unnoticed earlier for many of the regulatory elements studied. The chlorophyll a/b binding protein gene, expressed at very high levels in green tissues, is also expressed at a low level in the vascular cylinder of the root. The Agrobacterium T-DNA gene encoding octopine synthase is especially active in the epidermis of the root tip and the TR2' gene was shown to be root specific in the intact plant and stimulated by wounding in the leaf tissue. The TR1' gene, fused to nptII, shows similar characteristics suggesting co-regulation of this tightly linked dual promoter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-350
Number of pages8
JournalThe EMBO journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1989


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