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Nat Genet. 1998 Jan;18(1):56-9.

Repeat-induced gene silencing in mammals.

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1
Department of Biochemistry, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Abstract

In both plants and Drosophila melanogaster, expression from a transgenic locus may be silenced when repeated transgene copies are arranged as a concatameric array. This repeat-induced gene silencing is frequently manifested as a decrease in the proportion of cells that express the transgene, resulting in a variegated pattern of expression. There is also some indication that, in transgenic mammals, the number of transgene copies within an array can exert a repressive influence on expression, with several mouse studies reporting a decrease in the level of expression per copy as copy number increases. However, because these studies compare different sites of transgene integration as well as arrays with different numbers of copies, the expression levels observed may be subject to varying position effects as well as the influence of the multicopy array. Here we describe use of the lox/Cre system of site-specific recombination to generate transgenic mouse lines in which different numbers of a transgene are present at the same chromosomal location, thereby eliminating the contribution of position effects and allowing analysis of the effect of copy number alone on transgene silencing. Reduction in copy number results in a marked increase in expression of the transgene and is accompanied by decreased chromatin compaction and decreased methylation at the transgene locus. These findings establish that the presence of multiple homologous copies of a transgene within a concatameric array can have a repressive effect upon gene expression in mammalian systems.

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PMID:
9425901
DOI:
10.1038/ng0198-56
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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