• Open Access

The LP2 leucine-rich repeat receptor kinase gene promoter directs organ-specific, light-responsive expression in transgenic rice


*(fax 510 559 5818; e-mail roger.thilmony@ars.usda.gov)


Biotechnologists seeking to limit gene expression to nonseed tissues of genetically engineered cereal crops have only a few choices of well characterized organ-specific promoters. We have isolated and characterized the promoter of the rice Leaf Panicle 2 gene (LP2, Os02g40240). The LP2 gene encodes a leucine-rich repeat-receptor kinase-like protein that is strongly expressed in leaves and other photosynthetic tissues. Transgenic rice plants containing an LP2 promoter-GUS::GFP bifunctional reporter gene displayed an organ-specific pattern of expression. This expression corresponded to transcript levels observed on RNA blots of various rice organs and microarray gene expression data. The strongest β-glucuronidase activity was observed in histochemically stained mesophyll cells, but other green tissues and leaf cell types including epidermal cells also exhibited expression. Low or undetectable levels of LP2 transcript and LP2-mediated reporter gene expression were observed in roots, mature seeds, and reproductive tissues. The LP2 promoter is highly responsive to light and only weak expression was detected in etiolated rice seedlings. The specificity and strength of the LP2 promoter suggests that this promoter will be a useful control element for green tissue-specific expression in rice and potentially other plants. Organ-specific promoters like LP2 will enable precise, localized expression of transgenes in biotechnology-derived crops and limit the potential of unintended impacts on plant physiology and the environment.