Send to

Choose Destination
Methods Enzymol. 2015;550:267-81. doi: 10.1016/bs.mie.2014.10.035. Epub 2014 Dec 26.

Controlling expression of genes in the unicellular alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii with a vitamin-repressible riboswitch.

Author information

Departments of Molecular Biology and Plant Biology, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.
Departments of Molecular Biology and Plant Biology, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland. Electronic address:


Chloroplast genomes of land plants and algae contain generally between 100 and 150 genes. These genes are involved in plastid gene expression and photosynthesis and in various other tasks. The function of some chloroplast genes is still unknown and some of them appear to be essential for growth and survival. Repressible and reversible expression systems are highly desirable for functional and biochemical characterization of these genes. We have developed a genetic tool that allows one to regulate the expression of any coding sequence in the chloroplast genome of the unicellular alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Our system is based on vitamin-regulated expression of the nucleus-encoded chloroplast Nac2 protein, which is specifically required for the expression of any plastid gene fused to the psbD 5'UTR. With this approach, expression of the Nac2 gene in the nucleus and, in turn, that of the chosen chloroplast gene artificially driven by the psbD 5'UTR, is controlled by the MetE promoter and Thi4 riboswitch, which can be inactivated in a reversible way by supplying vitamin B12 and thiamine to the growth medium, respectively. This system opens interesting possibilities for studying the assembly and turnover of chloroplast multiprotein complexes such as the photosystems, the ribosome, and the RNA polymerase. It also provides a way to overcome the toxicity often associated with the expression of proteins of biotechnological interest in the chloroplast.


Chlamydomonas; Chloroplast; Inducible gene expression; Riboswitch; Vitamins

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center