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Dev Dyn. 1999 Jun;215(2):126-38.

DNA methylation pattern of a tandemly repeated LacZ transgene indicates that most copies are silent.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Ottawa, Canada.


The Pgk-1,2-lacZ transgene consists of the ubiquitously-expressed Pgk-1 promoter driving expression of the E. coli lacZ reporter gene. We studied the expression of this transgene in a mouse strain carrying 8-9 tandem copies of this construct. When inherited through the male germ line, the transgene was expressed in all tissues examined but when inherited through the female germ line, the transgene became irreversibly inactivated. The lacZ region is a CpG-rich island that was essentially entirely methylated in all copies of the silent, maternally-inherited transgene. At the active transgenic locus, all but one of the copies were entirely methylated. This one unmethylated copy was adjacent to the cellular DNA and was presumed to be the expressed transgene copy. These results suggest that the tandem repeats of transgenes become silenced by a mechanism associated with DNAmethylation and that proximity to the cellular genome may be important in maintaining expression against the spread of inactivation from the adjacent silent transgenes.

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