WARF: P07367US

Improved Methods and Materials for Transforming Plant Cells


Lada Rasochova, Thomas German, Paul Ahlquist

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a method of using a DNA-launching platform to introduce viral RNA into a host cell.
OVERVIEWRNA viruses are commonly used to transform targeted plant cells by introducing a foreign nucleic acid into a cell to permanently alter it. Current methods of inoculating a cell with modified RNA viruses involve the in vitro transcription of a particular strand, followed by the introduction of the resulting RNA transcripts into the host cell. However, preparing in vitro RNA transcripts is expensive and time consuming, and the RNA degrades rapidly, causing a low efficiency of infection. In addition, existing RNA virus-based vectors can spread to non-target plants, potentially introducing dangerous traits, such as herbicide resistance, into the environment.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have developed a method of using a DNA-launching platform to introduce viral RNA into a host cell that has been engineered to support viral replication and expression. The platform encodes a modified viral RNA molecule located downstream of a DNA-dependent RNA polymerase promoter. After the platform is introduced into a host cell, it effectively “launches” the RNA molecule into the cell, where the RNA is replicated and expressed.
  • Transforming plant cells
  • More efficient than current methods because the DNA-launching platforms are more resistant to degradation than RNA inocula, and each platform produces multiple RNA transcripts over an extended period of time
  • Provides a simpler means of producing inocula in bulk for large-scale use
  • Less expensive than inoculating with in vitro RNA transcripts
  • Counteracts genetic instability problems found with some vectors that are based on plant and animal RNA viruses because the DNA platform provides a genetically stable archive copy of the desired construct and is continually transcribed to inoculate the host cell repeatedly
  • Alleviates potential dangers associated with the unwanted spread of engineered traits into the environment
  • Applies to a wide array of plant cells
For More Information About the Inventors
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Mark Staudt at or 608-960-9845.
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