Cell-type-specific promoters in combination with viral vectors and gene-editing technology permit efficient gene manipulation in specific cell populations. Cerebellar Purkinje cells play a pivotal role in cerebellar functions. Although the Purkinje cell-specific L7 promoter is widely used for the generation of transgenic mice, it remains unsuitable for viral vectors because of its large size (3 kb) and exceedingly weak promoter activity. Here, we found that the 0.8-kb region (named here as L7-6) upstream of the transcription initiation codon in the first exon was alone sufficient as a Purkinje cell-specific promoter, presenting a far stronger promoter activity over the original 3-kb L7 promoter with a sustained significant specificity to Purkinje cells. Intravenous injection of adeno-associated virus vectors that are highly permeable to the blood-brain barrier confirmed the Purkinje cell specificity of the L7-6 in the CNS. The features of the L7-6 were also preserved in the marmoset, a non-human primate. The high sequence homology of the L7-6 among mouse, marmoset, and human suggests the preservation of the promoter strength and Purkinje cell specificity features also in humans. These findings suggest that L7-6 will facilitate the cerebellar research targeting the pathophysiology and gene therapy of cerebellar disorders.
Keywords: L7; PCP2; Purkinje cell; adeno-associated virus; cell type-specific promoter; cerebellum; lentivirus; marmoset; non-human primate; viral vector.