Transient gene expression is being developed to provide a more rapid means of assessing plant tissues as a protein production platform without the labor-intensive and time-consuming process of generating stably transformed transgenic plants. Transient expression of the gus-intron reporter gene was facilitated in three different tobacco species. Two different approaches to T-DNA delivery were compared: (1) infiltration of a prototrophic strain of Agrobacterium into leaves and (2) coculture of plant cell suspension cultures with an Agrobacterium auxotroph. Wounding of plant tissues with a wire brush prior to infiltration had a large positive impact on Nicotiana benthamiana leaves but not for Nicotiana tabacum or Nicotiana glutinosa. The best expression level achieved by leaf infiltration was in N. benthamiana (0.025% total soluble protein). A cell suspension culture line of N. glutinosa achieved an expression level greater than 0.04% TSP. The tissue culture-based technique therefore provides improved levels of transient expression under aseptic conditions to facilitate improvements in expression by control of the plant cell culture and Agrobacterium coculture environments.
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