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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Washington, D.C. » National Arboretum » Floral and Nursery Plants Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #409056

Research Project: Genetic Improvement of Woody Ornamental Plants for Resilient and Sustainable Landscapes

Location: Floral and Nursery Plants Research

Title: Engineered DsRNA-protein nanoparticles for effective systemic gene silencing in plants

item TANG, DAN - University Of Connecticut
item SUN, HUAYN - University Of Connecticut
item KALLURI, ANKARAO - University Of Connecticut
item DING, JINGWEN - University Of Connecticut
item ZHAI, LONGMEI - University Of Connecticut
item GU, XIANBIN - University Of Connecticut
item LI, YANJUN - University Of Connecticut
item YER, HUSEYIN - University Of Connecticut
item YANG, XIAOHAN - Oak Ridge National Laboratory
item TUSKAN, GERALD - Oak Ridge National Laboratory
item DENG, ZHANAO - University Of Florida
item Duan, Hui
item GMITTER, FREDERICK - University Of Florida
item KUMAR, CHALLA - University Of Connecticut
item LI, YI - University Of Connecticut

Submitted to: Horticulture Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/31/2024
Publication Date: 2/22/2024
Citation: Tang, D., Sun, H., Kalluri, A., Ding, J., Zhai, L., Gu, X., Li, Y., Yer, H., Yang, X., Tuskan, G., Deng, Z., Duan, H., Gmitter, F., Kumar, C., Li, Y. 2024. Engineered DsRNA-protein nanoparticles for effective systemic gene silencing in plants. Horticulture Research.

Interpretive Summary: One major challenge of plant biotechnology is how to deliver bioactive molecules into higher plants. The delivery of biologically active RNA molecules is of particular interest since such active RNA molecules will modify plant characteristics or perform gene editing without inserting large DNA fragments into the plant genome. However, previously the delivery of active RNA molecules was mainly done in the plant protoplast system, which also requires going through a technically difficult tissue culture process. A team of scientists discovered that cationized bovine serum albumin protein can bind double-stranded RNA to form a nanocomplex, and this nanocomplex can be taken up by plants and transported from basal ends to upper parts. The transported molecule is biologically active and can perform overexpression and silencing functions. Therefore, this is a promising delivery technology for both changing plant characteristics and performing gene editing without going through the traditional plant transformation process.

Technical Abstract: Long-distance transport of exogenous biologically active RNA molecules in higher plants has not been reported. Here, we report that cationized bovine serum albumin (cBSA) avidly binds double-stranded beta-glucuronidase RNA (dsGUS RNA) to form nucleic acid-protein nanocomplexes. Using tobacco and poplar plants, we have shown effective uptake and long-distance transport of cBSA/dsGUS RNA nanocomplexes from basal ends of leaf petioles to leaf blades as well as from basal ends of shoots to their apexes and apical leaves. We have further demonstrated that the cBSA/dsGUS RNA nanocomplexes are highly effective in silencing both conditionally inducible DR5-GUS gene and constitutively active 35S-GUS gene in leaf, shoot and shoot meristem tissues. This cBSA/dsRNA delivery technology may provide a convenient, fast, and inexpensive tool for characterizing gene functions in plants, and potentially for in planta gene-editing.