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BMC Res Notes. 2009 Oct 17;2:210. doi: 10.1186/1756-0500-2-210.

Improved conditional expression systems resulting in physiological level of HNF4alpha expression confirm HNF4alpha induced apoptosis in the pancreatic beta-cell line INS-1.

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1
Institut für Zellbiologie (Tumorforschung), Universitätsklinikum Essen, Universität, Duisburg-Essen, D-45122 Essen, Germany. sabine.senkel@uni-due.de

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

To analyze gene function in mammalian cells tetracycline inducible expression of a gene-of-interest at a specific genomic location (Flp-In T-REx) is most attractive. However, leakiness of basal transgene expression and artificially high expression level upon tetracycline addition may be disadvantageous.

FINDINGS:

To solve these problems, we developed two different approaches to improve our pancreatic beta-cell line INS-1 Flp-In T-REx expressing the tissue restricted transcription factor HNF4alpha under control of tetracycline. On the one hand we replaced the strong full length CMV promoter (CMV-Wt) with a weaker 5'-deleted CMV promoter fragment of 138 nucleotides in length (CMV-138). On the other hand we extended our INS-1 Flp-In T-REx cell lines with a Shield-1 dependent conditional control system of protein stability. Therefore, we fused HNF4alpha to the destabilization domain (DD) deduced from human FKBP12 protein. As a result in both approaches basal transgene expression level was markedly reduced, but HNF4alpha induction could still be maintained. Additionally, we could show that a low increase in HNF4alpha induces caspase activity indicating an apoptotic effect of HNF4alpha in these cells.

CONCLUSION:

In the present study we considerably improved our INS-1 Flp-In T-REx cell lines conditionally expressing HNF4alpha to reduce leakiness and to optimize exogenous HNF4alpha protein expression to a physiological level. As an important result we could extend our previous results that HNF4alpha induces apoptosis in the pancreatic beta-cell line INS-1 with the new aspect that an expression level of the HNF4alpha transgene marginally exceeding the endogenous level is sufficient to trigger apoptosis.

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