Patterns of gene action in plant development revealed by enhancer trap and gene trap transposable elements

Venkatesan Sundaresan, Patricia Springer, Thomas Volpe, Samuel Haward, Jonathan D.G. Jones, Caroline Dean, Hong Ma, Robert Martienssen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

605 Scopus citations


The crucifer Arabidopsis thaliana has been used widely as a model organism for the study of plant development. We describe here the development of an efficient insertional mutagenesis system in Arabidopsis that permits identification of genes by their patterns of expression during development. Transposable elements of the Ac/Ds system carrying the GUS reporter gene have been designed to act as enhancer traps or gene traps. A novel selection scheme maximizes recovery of unlinked transposition events. In this study 491 plants carrying independent transposon insertions were generated and screened for expression patterns. One-half of the enhancer trap insertions and one- quarter of the gene trap insertions displayed GUS expression in seedlings or flowers, including expression patterns specific to organs, tissues, cell types, or developmental stages. The patterns identify genes that act during organogenesis, pattern formation, or cell differentiation. Transposon insertion lines with specific GUS expression patterns provide valuable markers for studies of Arabidopsis development and identify new cell types or subtypes in plants. The diversity of gene expression patterns generated suggests that the identification and cloning of Arabidopsis genes expressed in any developmental process is feasible using this system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1797-1810
Number of pages14
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 15 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology


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