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Article|01 Sep 2020|OPEN
Tomato fruit as a model for tissue-specific gene silencing in crop plants
Ari Feder1, Sarah Jensen1,2, Anquan Wang1,3, Lance Courtney1,4, Lesley Middleton1, Joyce Van Eck1, Yongsheng Liu3 & James J. Giovannoni1,4,5,
1Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA
2Section of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA
3School of Biotechnology and Food Engineering, Hefei University of Technology, 230009 Hefei, China
4Section of Plant Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA
5US Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service, Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture and Health, Ithaca, NY, USA

Horticulture Research 7,
Article number: 20142 (2020)
doi: 10.1038/hortres.2020.142
Views: 256

Received: 27 Feb 2020
Revised: 24 May 2020
Accepted: 07 Jul 2020
Published online: 01 Sep 2020

Abstract

Use of CRISPR-Cas9 (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR)-CRISPR-associated 9)-mediated genome editing has proliferated for use in numerous plant species to modify gene function and expression, usually in the context of either transient or stably inherited genetic alternations. While extremely useful in many applications, modification of some loci yields outcomes detrimental to further experimental evaluation or viability of the target organism. Expression of Cas9 under a promoter conferring gene knockouts in a tissue-specific subset of genomes has been demonstrated in insect and animal models, and recently in Arabidopsis. We developed an in planta GFP (green fluorescent protein) assay system to demonstrate fruit-specific gene editing in tomato using a phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase 2 gene promoter. We then targeted a SET-domain containing polycomb protein, SlEZ2, previously shown to yield pleiotropic phenotypes when targeted via 35S-driven RNA interference and we were able to characterize fruit phenotypes absent additional developmental perturbations. Tissue-specific gene editing will have applications in assessing function of essential genes otherwise difficult to study via germline modifications and will provide routes to edited genomes in tissues that could not otherwise be recovered when their germline modification perturbs their normal development.