Transposable elements (TEs) are DNA fragments that have the ability to move from one chromosomal location to another. The insertion of TEs into gene-rich regions often affects changes in the expression of neighboring genes. Miniature Ping (mPing) is an active miniature inverted-repeat TE discovered in the rice genome. It has been found to show exceptionally active transposition in a few japonica rice varieties, including Gimbozu, where mPing insertion rendered adjacent genes stress-inducible. In the Gimbozu population, it is highly possible that several genes with modified expression profiles are segregating due to the de novo mPing insertions. In our study, we utilized a screening system for detecting de novo mPing insertions in the upstream region of target genes and evaluated the effect of mPing on the stress response of the target genes. Screening for 17 targeted genes revealed five genes with the mPing insertion in their promoters. In most cases, the alteration of gene expression was observed under stress conditions, and there was no change in the expression levels of those five genes under normal conditions. These results indicate that the mPing insertion can be used as a genetic tool to modify an expression pattern of a target gene under stress conditions without changing the expression profiles of those under natural conditions.
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