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Gene 'knockout' floors tobacco carcinogen
Date:3/18/2008

ced, the NC State researchers used a technique called RNA interference in which genetic engineering was used to introduce a gene that inhibits the demethylase gene function into the tobacco plant.

Dewey and Lewis have since developed tobacco lines with the same effect without using genetic engineering. They randomly inserted chemical changes, or mutations, into the tobacco genome of burley tobacco plants. They then searched for plants in which the nicotine demethylase gene was permanently impaired. The researchers are currently working to transfer this mutation to widely used tobacco varieties.

Dewey and Lewis add that nothing else in the plant changed growth or resistance to insects or disease, for example after they knocked out this specific gene.

While Lewis believes that varieties of burley tobacco with a silenced demethylase gene will exist within the next few years, the NC State researchers say burley tobacco has a number of other targets for their gene silencing method.


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Contact: Dr. Ralph Dewey
ralph_dewey@ncsu.edu
919-515-2705
North Carolina State University
Source:Eurekalert

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