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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1988 Feb;85(3):836-40.

Introns increase transcriptional efficiency in transgenic mice.

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  • 1Laboratory of Reproductive Physiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104.


Experiments were designed to test the effect of introns on gene expression in transgenic mice. Four different pairs of gene constructs, which were identical except that one member of each pair lacked all introns, were compared for expression of mRNA after introduction into the murine germ line by microinjection of fertilized eggs. The expression of two chimeric genes, made by fusing either the mouse metallothionein I or the rat elastase 1 promoter/enhancer to the rat growth hormone gene, was assayed in fetal liver or pancreas, respectively, while two natural genes, an oligonucleotide-marked mouse metallothionein I gene and the human beta-globin gene, were assayed in fetal liver. In each case there was, on average, 10- to 100-fold more mRNA produced from the intron-containing construct. Moreover, mRNA levels were proportional to the relative rates of transcription that were measured in isolated nuclei. However, when the expression of the two mouse metallothionein I gene-based constructs was tested after transfection into cultured cells, little difference was observed. These observations suggest that introns play a role in facilitating transcription of microinjected genes and that this effect may be manifest only on genes exposed to developmental influences.

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