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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994 Sep 27;91(20):9302-6.

Temporal control of gene expression in transgenic mice by a tetracycline-responsive promoter.

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Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, Germany.


Promoters whose temporal activity can be directly manipulated in transgenic animals provide a tool for the study of gene functions in vivo. We have evaluated a tetracycline-responsive binary system for its ability to temporally control gene expression in transgenic mice. In this system, a tetracycline-controlled trans-activator protein (tTA), composed of the repressor of the tetracycline-resistance operon (tet from Escherichia coli transposon Tn10) and the activating domain of viral protein VP16 of herpes simplex virus, induces transcription from a minimal promoter (PhCMV*-1; see below) fused to seven tet operator sequences in the absence of tetracycline but not in its presence. Transgenic mice were generated that carried either a luciferase or a beta-galactosidase reporter gene under the control of PhCMV*-1 or a transgene containing the tTA coding sequence under the control of the human cytomegalovirus immediate early gene 1 (hCMV IE1) promoter/enhancer. Whereas little luciferase or beta-galactosidase activity was observed in tissues of mice carrying only the reporter genes, the presence of tTA in double-transgenic mice induced expression of the reporter genes up to several thousand-fold. This induction was abrogated to basal levels upon administration of tetracycline. These findings can be used, for example, to design dominant gain-of-function experiments in which temporal control of transgene expression is required.

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