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Hum Gene Ther. 2005 Jul;16(7):881-92.

Diverse plasmid DNA vectors by directed molecular evolution of cytomegalovirus promoters.

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Maxygen, Redwood City, CA 94063, USA.


Genetic vaccinations, gene therapy, and manufacturing of therapeutic proteins would benefit from promoter sequences that provide improved or prolonged expression levels. The cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter is one of the most potent promoters known to date, and no previous examples of improved activity of this promoter by sequence mutagenesis have been reported. This study describes directed molecular evolution of CMV promoters derived from two human and two nonhuman primate strains of CMV by DNA shuffling and screening. Libraries of chimeric promoters were screened and analyzed for expression levels and immune responses, using plasmid DNA vectors encoding luciferase and beta-galactosidase. The results indicate that high functional diversity among CMV promoters can be generated, and the chimeric promoters selected after two rounds of DNA shuffling and particularly designed screening assays provided approximately 2-fold increased luciferase reporter gene expression and anti-beta-galactoside antibody response in vivo when compared with wild-type promoters. Sequence analysis of the shuffled promoters identified several mutations potentially contributing to the observed enhanced or reduced promoter activities and identified a 42-nucleotide region that appears obsolete for the functioning of the CMV promoter. Taken together, these data demonstrate the feasibility of generating diverse promoter sequences by DNA shuffling and screening methods, and provide novel structure- function information about CMV promoters. DNA shuffling and screening technologies provide a new approach to promoter optimization and development of optimal expression vectors for genetic vaccinations, gene therapy, and protein expression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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