Stable, stoichiometric delivery of diverse protein functions

J Biochem Biophys Methods. 2004 Feb 27;58(2):101-10. doi: 10.1016/S0165-022X(03)00147-7.


As contemporary "genomics" steadily reveals an increasing number of novel gene sequences, the need for efficient methodologies to functionally characterize these genes in vivo increases significantly. Reliable coupling of target gene expression to a variety of surrogate reporter functions is critical to properly assay novel gene function in complex cell populations. Ideally, independent target and reporter proteins would be derived from a single open reading frame creating a stoichiometric relationship without obscuring subcellular localization. We report here effective strategies for assaying gene function through the stable production of chimeric polyproteins, processed intracellularly by inclusion of an intervening 19-amino-acid sequence from the 2A region of the Foot and Mouth Disease virus. Using drug-resistance and flow cytometry-based assay systems, we demonstrate that diverse protein functions are effectively delivered to various cell types by retroviral constructs as single 2A-cleaved polyproteins. For example, cells infected with a retrovirus encoding a nuclear cell cycle regulator, linked via the 2A-motif to a marker membrane protein, showed a direct correlation between cell cycle arrest and surface marker level. This demonstrates the utility of this methodology for stable and stoichiometric delivery of distinctly localized protein functionalities. In particular, the ability to exploit multiple cellular functions will serve to accelerate the functional characterization of gene products and facilitate novel gene therapy approaches.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cell Separation
  • Drug Resistance, Viral
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Foot-and-Mouth Disease Virus / genetics
  • Genes, Viral
  • Genetic Techniques*
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Humans
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Open Reading Frames
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Retroviridae / genetics*
  • Subcellular Fractions
  • Viral Proteins / genetics


  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Proteins
  • Viral Proteins
  • virus protein 2A
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins