Expression of a chromosomally integrated, single-copy GFP gene in Candida albicans, and its use as a reporter of gene regulation
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Genetically engineered versions of the GFP gene, which encodes the green fluorescent protein of Aequorea victoria, were placed under the control of the constitutively active Candida albicansACT1 promoter and integrated in single copy into the genome of this pathogenic yeast. Integrative transformants in which one of the two ACT1 alleles had been replaced by a GFP gene exhibited a homogeneous, constitutive fluorescent phenotype. Cells expressing GFP with the wild-type chromophore exhibited very weak fluorescence compared to those GFP proteins with the S65T or S65A, V68L, S72A (GFPmut2) chromophore mutations. Substitution of the CTG codon, which specifies serine instead of leucine in C. albicans, by TTG was absolutely necessary for GFP expression. Although GFP mRNA levels in cells containing a GFP gene with the CTG codon were comparable to those of transformants containing GFP with the TTG substitution, only the latter produced GFP protein, as detected by Western blotting, suggesting that the frequent failure to express heterologous genes in C. albicans is principally due to the non-canonical codon usage. Transformants expressing the modified GFP gene from the promoter of the SAP2 gene, which encodes one of the secreted acid proteinases of C. albicans, showed fluorescence only under conditions which promote proteinase expression, thereby demonstrating the utility of stable, chromosomally integrated GFP reporter genes for the study of gene activation in C. albicans.
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