Transgene silencing has been shown to be associated with strong promoters, but it is not known whether the propensity for silencing is caused by the level of transcription, or some other property of the promoter. If transcriptional activity fosters silencing, then transgenes with inducible promoters may be less susceptible to silencing. To test this idea, a doxycycline-inducible luciferase transgene was transformed into an NT1 tobacco suspension culture cell line that constitutively expressed the tetracycline repressor. The inducible luciferase gene was flanked by tobacco Rb7 matrix attachment regions (MAR) or spacer control sequences in order to test the effects of MARs in conjunction with regulated transcription. Transformed lines were grown under continuous doxycycline (CI), or delayed doxycycline induction (DI) conditions. Delayed induction resulted in higher luciferase expression initially, but continued growth in the presence of doxycycline resulted in a reduction of expression to levels similar to those found in continuously induced lines. In both DI and CI treatments, the Rb7 MAR significantly reduced the percentage of silenced lines and increased transgene expression levels. These data demonstrate that active transcription increases silencing, especially in the absence of the Rb7 MAR. Importantly, the Rb7 MAR lines showed higher expression levels under both CI and DI conditions and avoided silencing that may occur in the absence of active transcription such as what would be expected as a result of condensed chromatin spreading.
- Transgene expression