Efficient expression of cloned complementary DNAs for secretory proteins after injection into Xenopus oocytes

P. Krieg, R. Strachan, E. Wallis, L. Tabe, A. Colman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Cloned complementary DNAs encoding chicken ovalbumin, chicken prelysozyme and calf preprochymosin, prochymosin and chymosin were inserted downstream from various viral promoters in modified recombinant "shuttle" vectors. Microinjection of the ovalbumin, prelysozyme and preprochymosin constructs into the nuclei of Xenopus laevis oocytes resulted in the synthesis, segregation in membranes and secretion into the extracellular medium of ovalbumin, lysozyme and prochymosin, respectively. Judging from molecular weight estimations, lysozyme and prochymosin were correctly proteolytically processed while ovalbumin, which lacks a cleavable signal sequence, was glycosylated. Injection of the DNA construct encoding prochymosin without its signal sequence resulted in synthesis of prochymosin protein that was localized exclusively in the oocyte cytoplasm. No immunospecific protein was detected after injection of the DNA encoding mature chymosin. In terms of protein expression in oocytes, the Herpes simplex thymidine kinase (TK) promoter was up to sevenfold more effective than the simian virus 40 (SV40) early promoter, and equally as effective as the Moloney murine sarcoma virus long terminal repeat element. Where tested, protein expression in oocytes was much reduced if DNA sequences encoding the SV40 small t intron and its flanking sequences were present in the constructs. S1 nuclease mapping of transcripts produced after injection of DNAs containing the TK promoter indicated that the majority of transcripts initiated at, or within, two bases of the known "cap" site. However, minor transcripts initiating upstream from this site were observed and one (or more) of these transcripts was responsible for the synthesis of an ovalbumin polypeptide containing a 51 amino acid N-terminal extension. This extended protein remained in the oocyte cytosol. When ovalbumin cDNA was inserted into the vectors with opposite polarity to the viral promoter, expression in oocytes resulted in the predominant synthesis and secretion of a variant ovalbumin with a 21 amino acid N-terminal extension, although some full-length ovalbumin was also synthesized and secreted. S1 mapping revealed the presence, in these oocytes, of transcripts of predicted polarity initiating 118 bases upstream from the wild type ovalbumin initiator ATG, at a previously unreported SV40 "promoter". No protein synthesis was detected after the injection of these reverse-orientation constructs into baby hamster kidney (BHK-21) cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-643
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 15 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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