Cre recombinase expression can result in phenotypic aberrations in plants

Eric R Coppoolse, Marianne J de Vroomen, Dick Roelofs, Jaap Smit, Femke van Gennip, Bart J M Hersmus, H John J Nijkamp, Mark J J van Haaren

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The cre recombinase gene was stably introduced and expressed in tomato, petunia and Nicotiana tabacum. Some plants expressing the cre gene driven by a CaMV 35S promoter displayed growth retardation and a distinct pattern of chlorosis in their leaves. Although no direct relation can be proven between the phenotype and cre expression, aberrant phenotypes always co-segregate with the transgene, which strongly suggests a correlation. The severity of the phenotype does not correlate with the level of steady-state mRNA in mature leaves, but with the timing of cre expression during organogenesis. The early onset of cre expression in tomato is correlated with a more severe phenotype and with higher germinal transmission frequencies of site-specific deletions. No aberrant phenotype was observed when a tissue-specific phaseolin promoter was used to drive the cre gene. The data suggest that for the application of recombinases in plants, expression is best limited to specific tissues and a short time frame.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-79
Number of pages17
JournalPlant Molecular Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003


  • Arabidopsis
  • Chromosome Deletion
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Plant
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Genome, Plant
  • Integrases
  • Lycopersicon esculentum
  • Mutation
  • Petunia
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Development
  • Plant Leaves
  • Plants
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Tobacco
  • Viral Proteins
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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