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Mol Cell Biol. 1991 Jun;11(6):3070-4.

A generic intron increases gene expression in transgenic mice.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02142.


To investigate the role of splicing in the regulation of gene expression, we have generated transgenic mice carrying the human histone H4 promoter linked to the bacterial gene for chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT), with or without a heterologous intron in the transcription unit. We found that CAT activity is 5- to 300-fold higher when the transgene incorporates a hybrid intron than with an analogous transgene precisely deleted for the intervening sequences. This hybrid intron, consisting of an adenovirus splice donor and an immunoglobulin G splice acceptor, stimulated expression in a broad range of tissues in the animal. Although the presence of the hybrid intron increased the frequency of transgenics with significant CAT activity, it did not affect the integration site-dependent variation commonly seen in transgene expression. To determine whether the enhancement is a general outcome of splicing or is dependent on the particular intron, we also produced equivalent transgenics carrying the widely used simian virus 40 small-t intron. We found that the hybrid intron is significantly more effective in elevating transgene expression. Our results suggest that inclusion of the generic intron in cDNA constructs may be valuable in achieving high levels of expression in transgenic mice.

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