Direct evidence for rapid degradation of bacillus thuringiensis toxin mRNA as a cause of poor expression in plants

E. Jay De Rocher, Tracy C. Vargo-Gogola, Scott H. Diehn, Pamela J. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

65 Scopus citations


It is well established that the expression of Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.) toxin genes in higher plants is severely limited at the mRNA level, but the cause remains controversial. Elucidating whether mRNA accumulation is limited transcriptionally or posttranscriptionally could contribute to effective gene design as well as provide insights about endogenous plant gene-expression mechanisms. To resolve this controversy, we compared the expression of an A/U-rich wild-type cryIA(c) gene and a G/C-rich synthetic cryIA(c) B.t.-toxin gene under the control of identical 5′ and 3′ flanking sequences. Transcriplional activities of the genes were equal as determined by nuclear run-on transcription assays. In contrast, mRNA half-life measurements demonstrated directly that the wildtype transcript was markedly less stable than that encoded by the synthetic gene. Sequences that limit mRNA accumulation were located at more than one site within the coding region, and some appeared to be recognized in Arabidopsis but not in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum). These results support previous observations that some A/U-rich sequences can contribute to mRNA instability in plants. Our studies further indicate that some of these sequences may be differentially recognized in tobacco cells and Arabidopsis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1445-1461
Number of pages17
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 1998


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science

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