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Syst Synth Biol. 2007 Mar;1(1):3-9. doi: 10.1007/s11693-006-9001-5.

A destabilized bacterial luciferase for dynamic gene expression studies.

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  • 1Molecular-Scale Engineering and Nanoscale Technologies (MENT) Research Group, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, P.O. Box 2008, Building 3500, MS 6006, Oak Ridge, TN, 37931-6006, USA.


Fusions of genetic regulatory elements with reporter genes have long been used as tools for monitoring gene expression and have become a major component in synthetic gene circuit implementation. A major limitation of many of these systems is the relatively long half-life of the reporter protein(s), which prevents monitoring both the initiation and the termination of transcription in real-time. Furthermore, when used as components in synthetic gene circuits, the long time constants associated with reporter protein decay may significantly degrade circuit performance. In this study, short half-life variants of LuxA and LuxB from Photorhabdus luminescens were constructed in Escherichia coli by inclusion of an 11-amino acid carboxy-terminal tag that is recognized by endogenous tail-specific proteases. Results indicated that the addition of the C-terminal tag affected the functional half-life of the holoenzyme when the tag was added to luxA or to both luxA and luxB, but modification of luxB alone did not have a significant effect. In addition, it was also found that alteration of the terminal three amino acid residues of the carboxy-terminal tag fused to LuxA generated variants with half-lives of intermediate length in a manner similar to that reported for GFP. This report is the first instance of the C-terminal tagging approach for the regulation of protein half-life to be applied to an enzyme or monomer of a multi-subunit enzyme complex and will extend the utility of the bacterial luciferase reporter genes for the monitoring of dynamic changes in gene expression.

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