Positive fluorescent selection permits precise, rapid, and in-depth overexpression analysis in plant protoplasts

Bastiaan O.R. Bargmann, Kenneth D. Birnbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Transient genetic modification of plant protoplasts is a straightforward and rapid technique for the study of numerous aspects of plant biology. Recent studies in metazoan systems have utilized cell-based assays to interrogate signal transduction pathways using high-throughput methods. Plant biologists could benefit from new tools that expand the use of cell culture for large-scale analysis of gene function. We have developed a system that employs fluorescent positive selection in combination with flow cytometric analysis and fluorescence-activated cell sorting to isolate responses in the transformed protoplasts exclusively. The system overcomes the drawback that transfected protoplast suspensions are often a heterogeneous mix of cells that have and have not been successfully transformed. This Gateway-compatible system enables high-throughput screening of genetic circuitry using overexpression. The incorporation of a red fluorescent protein selection marker enables combined utilization with widely available green fluorescent protein (GFP) tools. For instance, such a dual labeling approach allows cytometric analysis of GFP reporter gene activation expressly in the transformed cells or fluorescence-activated cell sorting-mediated isolation and downstream examination of overexpression effects in a specific GFP-marked cell population. Here, as an example, novel uses of this system are applied to the study of auxin signaling, exploiting the red fluorescent protein/GFP dual labeling capability. In response to manipulation of the auxin response network through overexpression of dominant negative auxin signaling components, we quantify effects on auxin-responsive DR5TGFP reporter gene activation as well as profile genome-wide transcriptional changes specifically in cells expressing a root epidermal marker.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1231-1239
Number of pages9
JournalPlant physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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