A novel robust heat-inducible promoter for heterologous gene expression in Tetrahymena thermophila.

Abstract

An increasing amount of data has revealed the importance of inducible promoters in ciliate research and in ciliate-related industries. However, knowledge about these promoters and related genes is relatively sparse. Here we report a novel inducible promoter from a Tetrahymena cytoplasmic Hsp70 gene member, HSP70-2. The reported promoter was able to induce the endogenous gene up to ∼9000-fold after a short heat shock treatment and this remarkable feature has been retained when a relatively short region of the promoter was introduced into a reporter construct followed by transformation. During the recovery period following a short heat shock, both the mRNA and protein levels of the reporter gene were maintained high up to two hours. A constant heat shock treatment to the transformed cells led to a stabilization of the reporter mRNA up to at least six hours and the reporter protein continued to accumulate up to around three hours. The promoter strength appears to be similar to that of the cadmium-induced metallothionein gene (MTT1) promoter. Therefore, the HSP70-2 promoter represents an attractive alternative for the over-expression of proteins in Tetrahymena, and the promoter-reporter gene construct used in this study is an ideal tool to help in understanding the regulation mechanisms of heat shock genes in ciliates.

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