Targeted mutagenesis using zinc-finger nucleases in Arabidopsis

Alan Lloyd, Christopher L. Plaisier, Dana Carroll, Gary N. Drews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

366 Scopus citations


Targeted mutagenesis is an essential tool of reverse genetics that could be used experimentally to investigate basic plant biology or modify crop plants for improvement of important agricultural traits. Although targeted mutagenesis is routine in several model organisms including yeast and mouse, efficient and widely usable methods to generate targeted modifications in plant genes are not currently available. In this study we investigated the efficacy of a targeted-mutagenesis approach based on zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs). In this procedure, ZFNs are used to generate double-strand breaks at specific genomic sites, and subsequent repair produces mutations at the break site. To determine whether ZFNs can cleave and induce mutations at specific sites within higher plant genomes, we introduced a construct carrying both a ZFN gene, driven by a heat-shock promoter, and its target into the Arabidopsis genome. Induction of ZFN expression by heat shock during seedling development resulted in mutations at the ZFN recognition sequence at frequencies as high as 0.2 mutations per target. Of 106 ZFN-induced mutations characterized, 83 (78%) were simple deletions of 1-52 bp (median of 4 bp), 14 (13%) were simple insertions of 1-4 bp, and 9 (8%) were deletions accompanied by insertions. In 10% of induced individuals, mutants were present in the subsequent generation, thus demonstrating efficient transmission of the ZFN-induced mutations. These data indicate that ZFNs can form the basis of a highly efficient method for targeted mutagenesis of plant genes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2232-2237
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 8 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Gene targeting
  • Nonhomologous end joining

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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