Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
BMC Biotechnol. 2005 Jun 20;5:19.

Viral promoters can initiate expression of toxin genes introduced into Escherichia coli.

Author information

  • 1Robert Koch-Institut, Nordufer 20, 13353 Berlin, Germany.



The expression of recombinant proteins in eukaryotic cells requires the fusion of the coding region to a promoter functional in the eukaryotic cell line. Viral promoters are very often used for this purpose. The preceding cloning procedures are usually performed in Escherichia coli and it is therefore of interest if the foreign promoter results in an expression of the gene in bacteria. In the case molecules toxic for humans are to be expressed, this knowledge is indispensable for the specification of safety measures.


We selected five frequently used viral promoters and quantified their activity in E. coli with a reporter system. Only the promoter from the thymidine kinase gene from HSV1 showed no activity, while the polyhedrin promoter from baculovirus, the early immediate CMV promoter, the early SV40 promoter and the 5' LTR promoter from HIV-1 directed gene expression in E. coli. The determination of transcription start sites in the immediate early CMV promoter and the polyhedrin promoter confirmed the existence of bacterial -10 and -35 consensus sequences. The importance of this heterologous gene expression for safety considerations was further supported by analysing fusions between the aforementioned promoters and a promoter-less cytotoxin gene.


According to our results a high percentage of viral promoters have the ability of initiating gene expression in E. coli. The degree of such heterologous gene expression can be sufficient for the expression of toxin genes and must therefore be considered when defining safety measures for the handling of corresponding genetically modified organisms.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center