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Mol Genet Genomics. 2014 Aug;289(4):707-15. doi: 10.1007/s00438-014-0830-8. Epub 2014 Mar 2.

Optimization of mRNA design for protein expression in the crustacean Daphnia magna.

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Department of Biotechnology, Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University, 2-1 Yamadaoka, Suita, Osaka, 565-0871, Japan.


The water flea Daphnia is a new model organism for ecological, evolutionary, and toxicological genomics. Detailed functional analysis of genes newly discovered through genomic approaches often requires overexpression of the identified protein. In the present study, we report the microinjection of in vitro-synthesized RNAs into the eggs as a method for overexpressing ubiquitous proteins in Daphnia magna. We injected a 1.3-kb mRNA that coded for the red fluorescent protein (DsRed2) flanked by UTRs from the ubiquitously expressed elongation factor 1α-1 (EF1α-1) into D. magna embryos. DsRed2 fluorescence in the embryos was measured 24 h after microinjection. Unexpectedly, the reporter RNA containing the 522-bp full-length EF1α-1 3' UTR failed to induce fluorescence. To assess reporter expression, the length of the 3' UTR that potentially contained negative regulatory elements of protein expression, including AU-rich regions and Musashi binding elements, was serially reduced from the 3' end. Assessing all injected RNA alternatives, mRNA containing the first 60 bp of the 3' UTR gave rise to the highest fluorescence, 14 times the Daphnia auto-fluorescence. In contrast, mRNA lacking the entire 3' UTR hardly induced any change in fluorescence intensity. This is the first evaluation of UTRs of mRNAs delivered into Daphnia embryos by microinjection for overexpressing proteins. The mRNA with truncated 3' UTRs of Daphnia EF1α-1 will be useful not only for gain-of-function analyses but also for labeling proteins and organelles with fluorescent proteins in Daphnia.

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