Augmenting transgene expression from carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) promoter via a GAL4 gene regulatory system

Patricia E. Koch, Z. Sheng Guo, Shunsuke Kagawa, Jian Gu, Jack A. Roth, Bingliang Fang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Though extensively studied, the use of tissue- or cell-type-specific promoters to target transgene expression is hampered by their weak activity. We hypothesized that this problem could be addressed by using a GAL4 gene regulatory system, wherein a weak, tissue-specific promoter would drive expression of the GAL4/VP16 fusion protein (GV16), which in turn would transactivate a minimal synthetic promoter, GAL4/TATA (GT), upstream of a transgene. To test this hypothesis, we constructed adenoviral vectors expressing a lacZ or GV16 gene driven by a carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) promoter (Ad/CEA-LacZ or Ad/CEA-GV16) and evaluated levels of transgene expression they produced in cultured cells and in subcutaneous tumors after intratumoral administration. In CEA-positive cells, treatment with Ad/CEA-GV16 + Ad/GT-LacZ versus Ad/CEA-LacZ increased transgene expression 20- to 100-fold. In CEA-negative cells, treatment with Ad/CEA-GV16 + Ad/GT-LacZ increased transgene expression to a much lower degree (6- to 8-fold). In addition, analysis of Bax gene-mediated cell death revealed that this system can be used to avoid Bax's toxic effects on CEA-negative cells without compromising its ability to kill CEA-positive cells in vitro and in vivo. Thus, the combination of a tissue-specific promoter with the GAL4 gene regulatory system could be useful for targeting transgene expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-283
Number of pages6
JournalMolecular Therapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Bax
  • Gene therapy
  • Tissue-specific expression
  • Tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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