A comparative analysis of green fluorescent protein and beta-glucuronidase protein-encoding genes as a reporter system for studying the temporal expression profiles of promoters

J Biosci. 2008 Sep;33(3):337-43. doi: 10.1007/s12038-008-0053-4.


The assessment of activity of promoters has been greatly facilitated by the use of reporter genes. However, the activity as assessed by reporter gene is a reflection of not only promoter strength, but also that of the stability of the mRNA and the protein encoded by the reporter gene. While a stable reporter gene product is an advantage in analysing activities of weak promoters, it becomes a major limitation for understanding temporal expression patterns of a promoter, as the reporter product persists even after the activity of the promoter ceases. In the present study we undertook a comparative analysis of two reporter genes, beta-glucuronidase (gus) and green fluorescent protein (sgfp), for studying the temporal expression pattern of tapetum-specific promoters A9 (Arabidopsis thaliana) and TA29 (Nicotiana tabacum). The activity of A9 and TA29 promoters as assessed by transcript profiles of the reporter genes (gus or sgfp ) remained the same irrespective of the reporter gene used. However, while the deduced promoter activity using gus was extended temporally beyond the actual activity of the promoter, sgfp as recorded through its fluorescence correlated better with the transcription profile. Our results thus demonstrate that sgfp is a better reporter gene compared to gus for assessment of temporal activity of promoters. Although several earlier reports have commented on the possible errors in deducing temporal activities of promoters using GUS as a reporter protein, we experimentally demonstrate the advantage of using reporter genes such as gfp for analysis of temporal expression patterns.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Reporter*
  • Glucuronidase / genetics*
  • Glucuronidase / metabolism
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Mustard Plant / genetics*
  • Mustard Plant / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • Time Factors
  • Tobacco / genetics
  • Transformation, Genetic


  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Glucuronidase