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Int J Parasitol. 2003 Sep 15;33(10):1005-12.

Encystation-specific regulation of the cyst wall protein 2 gene in Giardia lamblia by multiple cis-acting elements.

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Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-0425, USA.


Giardia lamblia, a worldwide cause of diarrhoea, must differentiate into environmentally resistant cysts for dissemination and completion of its life cycle. Although G. lamblia is an early diverging eukaryote, encystation involves many complex cellular changes including formation of the cyst wall that contains at least two cyst wall proteins, cyst wall proteins 1 and 2. Cwp genes are transcribed only during encystation. In this study, we examine the regulatory elements for the encystation-specific gene cwp2. The 64 bp immediately upstream of the cwp2 open reading frame (-64 to -1 relative to ATG) was shown to be sufficient for the encystation-specific expression of luciferase. To determine which region(s) within this 64 bp contributed to encystation-specific expression in vivo, a series of deletions were cloned into a Giardia luciferase expression vector and their ability to control encystation-specific expression of luciferase was assessed. Deletion of elements in the -64 to -23 region of the cwp2 promoter significantly increased expression of luciferase in vegetative trophozoites, suggesting that this area contains a negative cis-acting element. Deletions of elements from -23 to -10 led to decreased expression in encysting cells, suggesting that this region may contain positive cis-acting elements. When the A/T-rich initiator was deleted but the cis-acting elements (-64 to -10) were retained, encystation-specific expression of luciferase was maintained but an aberrant transcriptional start site was utilised. These results indicate that Giardia has developed a classic repressor mechanism(s) that allows tight, encystation-specific control by the cwp2 promoter.

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