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Identification and validation of a Schistosoma japonicum U6 promoter
- Li, Qing, Wang, Wan, Zhao, Nan, Li, Pengcheng, Xin, Yue, Hu, Wei
- Parasites & vectors 2017 v.10 no.1 pp. 281
- DNA-directed RNA polymerase, Lentivirus, Schistosoma japonicum, Schistosoma mansoni, Western blotting, fluorescence microscopy, gene expression, genes, microRNA, plasmids, promoter regions, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, schistosomula, sequence alignment, small nuclear RNA, transcription (genetics)
- BACKGROUND: RNA polymerase III promoters have been widely used to express short hairpin-RNA (shRNA), microRNA (miRNA), and small guide RNA (sgRNA) in gene functional analysis in a variety of organisms including Schistosoma mansoni. However, no endogenous RNA polymerase III promoters have been identified in Schistosoma japonicum. The lack of appropriate promoters in S. japonicum has hindered its gene functional analysis. Identification of functional promoters in S. japonicum is therefore in urgent need. RESULTS: Via sequence alignment, a 347 bp sequence upstream from the coding region of S. japonicum U6 small nuclear RNA (snRNA) was identified, cloned, and named as S. japonicum U6 (sjU6) promoter. A sgRNA sequence named as sgRNA970 was designed, and its Cas9 nuclease guiding activity was confirmed by in vitro cleavage assay. The sjU6 promoter was ligated with sgRNA970 coding sequence by overlap PCR to generate a sjU6-sgRNA970 expression cassette. The expression cassette was inserted into a lentiviral plasmid to construct the pHBLV-sgRNA970 plasmid. First, we tested the sjU6 promoter activity in HEK293 cells by transfecting HEK293 cells with the pHBLV-sgRNA970 plasmid. RT-PCR amplification of the total RNA from the transfected HEK293 cells confirmed the presence of sgRNA970 transcript and indicated sjU6 promoter was functional to initiate transcription in HEK293 cells. Then we transduced the lentivirus expressing Cas9-ZsGreen fusion protein into 14 dpi schistosomula to test whether lentivirus was capable to induce exogenous gene expression in S. japonicum. Fluorescence microscopy and western blot results confirmed the expression of Cas9-ZsGreen fusion protein in S. japonicum. Therefore, this lentiviral system was adapted to test promoter activity in S. japonicum. Finally, we transduced 14 dpi S. japonicum with lentivirus produced from the pHBLV-sgRNA970 plasmid. RT-PCR amplification of the total RNA from transduced schistosomula confirmed the presence of sgRNA970 transcript and therefore indicated sjU6 promoter was functional to initiate transcription in S. japonicum. CONCLUSION: To our knowledge, sjU6 promoter would be the first identified and validated endogenous RNA polymerase III promoter in S. japonicum, which could be used for future CRISPR/Cas9 studies in S. japonicum.