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VipariNama: RNA vectors to rapidly reprogram plant morphology and metabolism

By Arjun Khakhar, Cecily Wang, Ryan Swanson, Sydney Stokke, Furva Rizvi, Surbhi Sarup, John Hobbs, Daniel F. Voytas

Posted 04 Jun 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.06.03.130179

Synthetic transcription factors have great promise as tools to explore biological processes. By allowing precise alterations in gene expression, they can help elucidate relationships between gene expression and plant morphology or metabolism. However, the years-long timescales, high cost, and technical skill associated with plant transformation have dramatically slowed their use. In this work, we developed a new platform technology called VipariNama (ViN) in which RNA vectors are used to rapidly deploy synthetic transcription factors and reprogram gene expression in planta. We demonstrate how ViN vectors can direct activation or repression of multiple genes, systemically and persistently over several weeks, and in multiple plant species. We also show how this transcriptional reprogramming can create predictable changes to metabolic and morphological phenotypes in the model plants Nicotiana benthamiana and Arabidopsis thaliana in a matter of weeks. Finally, we show how a model of gibberellin signaling can guide ViN vector-based reprogramming to rapidly engineer plant size in both model species as well as the crop Solanum lycopersicum (tomato). In summary, using VipariNama accelerates the timeline for generating phenotypes from over a year to just a few weeks, providing an attractive alternative to transgenesis for synthetic transcription factor-enabled hypothesis testing and crop engineering. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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