Given the therapeutic potential offered by embryonic stem (ES) cells, it is critical to optimize stable gene delivery and expression at different developmental stages of ES cell differentiation. Here, we systematically analyzed lentiviral vectors containing the following promoters: the human elongation factor 1α (EF1α) promoter, the human cytomegalovirus (CMV) immediate early region enhancer-promoter, the composite CAG promoter (consisting of the CMV immediate early enhancer and the chicken β-actin promoter), the human phosphoglycerate kinase 1 (PGK) promoter, the murine stem cell virus (MSCV) long terminal repeat (LTR), or the gibbon ape leukemia virus (GALV) LTR. Our results show that the EF1α promoter directed robust transgene expression at every stage of mouse ES cell differentiation, whereas the CMV promoter drove transgene expression only during late stages. Similarly, the CAG and PGK promoters drove transgene expression at a significant level only during late stages. The MSCV LTR and the GALV LTR exhibited much lower promoter activities at all stages. Interestingly, mouse ES cells transduced with the EF1α promoter-containing lentiviral vector lost most of their transgene expression during in vitro differentiation to neural precursors and neuronal cells. Our results demonstrate that different cellular and viral promoters exhibit very distinct and dynamic properties not only in terms of promoter strength but also with respect to differentiation stage-specific activity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology