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Gene. 1998 Aug 17;216(1):93-102.

A strong nitrogen source-regulated promoter for controlled expression of foreign genes in the yeast Pichia pastoris.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Technology, P.O. Box 91000, Portland, OR 97291-1000, USA.


In methylotrophic yeasts, glutathione-dependent formaldehyde dehydrogenase (FLD) is a key enzyme required for the metabolism of methanol as a carbon source and certain alkylated amines such as methylamine as nitrogen sources. We describe the isolation and characterization of the FLD1 gene from the yeast Pichia pastoris. The gene contains a single short intron with typical yeast-splicing signals near its 5' end, the first intron to be demonstrated in this yeast. The predicted FLD1 product (Fld1p) is a protein of 379 amino acids (approx. 40 kDa) with 71% identity to the FLD protein sequence from the n-alkane-assimilating yeast Candida maltosa and 61-65% identity with dehydrogenase class III enzymes from humans and other higher eukaryotes. Using beta-lactamase as a reporter, we show that the FLD1 promoter (PFLD1) is strongly and independently induced by either methanol as sole carbon source (with ammonium sulfate as nitrogen source) or methylamine as sole nitrogen source (with glucose as carbon source). Furthermore, with either methanol or methylamine induction, levels of beta-lactamase produced under control of PFLD1 are comparable to those obtained with the commonly used alcohol oxidase I gene promoter (PAOX1). Thus, PFLD1 is an attractive alternative to PAOX1 for expression of foreign genes in P. pastoris, allowing the investigator a choice of carbon (methanol) or nitrogen source (methylamine) regulation with the same expression strain.

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