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ACS Synth Biol. 2015 Apr 17;4(4):365-70. doi: 10.1021/sb5001092. Epub 2014 Aug 27.

Synthetic gene involving azobenzene-tethered T7 promoter for the photocontrol of gene expression by visible light.

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§School of Food Science and Engineering, Ocean University of China, Yushan-lu 5, Shinanqu, Qingdao 266003, China.


In the present study, we demonstrate photoregulation of gene expression in a cell-free translation system from a T7 promoter containing two azobenzene derivatives at specific positions. As photoswitches, we prepared azobenzene-4'-carboxlyic acid (Azo) and 2,6-dimethylazobenzene-4'-carboxylic acid (DM-Azo), which were isomerized from trans to cis upon irradiation with UV light (λ < 370 nm), and 4-methylthioazobenzene-4'-carboxylic acid (S-Azo) and 2,6-dimethyl-4-(methylthio)azobenzene-4'-carobxylic acid (S-DM-Azo), which were cis-isomerized by irradiation with 400 nm visible light. Expression of green fluorescent protein from a promoter modified with S-Azo or S-DM-Azo could be induced by harmless visible light whereas that from a promoter modified with Azo or DM-Azo was induced only by UV light (340-360 nm). Thus, efficient photoregulation of green fluorescent protein production was achieved in a cell-free translation system with visible light without photodamage.


azobenzene; d-threoninol scaffold; gene expression; photoactivated; transcription; visible light

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