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High activity levels of a transgene can be very useful, making a transgene easier to evaluate for safety and efficacy. High activity levels can also increase the economic benefit of the production of high value proteins in transgenic plants. The goal of this research is to determine if recurrent selection for activity of a transgene will result in higher activity, and if selection for activity of a transgene controlled by a native promoter will also increase protein levels of the native gene with the same promoter. To accomplish this goal we used transgenic maize containing a construct encoding green fluorescent protein controlled by the promoter for the maize endosperm-specific 27kDa gamma zein seed storage protein. We carried out recurrent selection for fluorescence intensity in two breeding populations. After three generations of selection, both selected populations were significantly more fluorescent and had significantly higher levels of 27kDa gamma zein than the unselected control populations. These higher levels of the 27kDa gamma zein occurred independently of the presence of the transgene. The results show that recurrent selection can be used to increase activity of a transgene and that selection for a transgene controlled by a native promoter can increase protein levels of the native gene with the same promoter via proxy selection. Moreover, the increase in native gene protein level is maintained in the absence of the transgene, demonstrating that proxy selection can be used to produce non-transgenic plants with desired changes in gene expression.
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Bodnar, Anastasia L.; Schroder, Meghan N.; and Scott, M. Paul, "Recurrent Selection for Transgene Activity Levels in Maize Results in Proxy Selection for a Native Gene with the Same Promoter" (2016). Agronomy Publications. 155.