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Keywords:

  • transient expression;
  • Agrobacterium;
  • co-localization;
  • bi-molecular fluorescence complementation;
  • sphingolipids

Summary

The functional genomics approach requires systematic analysis of protein subcellular distribution and interaction networks, preferably by optimizing experimental simplicity and physiological significance. Here, we present an efficient in planta transient transformation system that allows single or multiple expression of constructs containing various fluorescent protein tags in Arabidopsis cotyledons. The optimized protocol is based on vacuum infiltration of agrobacteria directly into young Arabidopsis seedlings. We demonstrate that Arabidopsis epidermal cells show a subcellular distribution of reference markers similar to that in tobacco epidermal cells, and can be used for co-localization or bi-molecular fluorescent complementation studies. We then used this new system to investigate the subcellular distribution of enzymes involved in sphingolipid metabolism. In contrast to transformation systems using tobacco epidermal cells or cultured Arabidopsis cells, our system provides the opportunity to take advantage of the extensive collections of mutant and transgenic lines available in Arabidopsis. The fact that this assay uses conventional binary vectors and a conventional Agrobacterium strain, and is compatible with a large variety of fluorescent tags, makes it a versatile tool for construct screening and characterization before stable transformation. Transient expression in Arabidopsis seedlings is thus a fast and simple method that requires minimum handling and potentially allows medium- to high-throughput analyses of fusion proteins harboring fluorescent tags in a whole-plant cellular context.