Stable coexpression of a drug-resistance gene and a heterologous gene in an ancient parasitic protozoan Giardia lamblia

Mol Biochem Parasitol. 1996 Dec 2;83(1):81-91. doi: 10.1016/s0166-6851(96)02752-1.


Manipulation of gene expression in Giardia lamblia, one of the most ancient eukaryotes, may provide insights into the evolutionary transition from prokaryotes to eukaryotes. Two recent successes in transient expression of the firefly luciferase (luc) gene in G. lamblia were mediated by a 5'-untranslated region (UTR) of the Giardia glutamate dehydrogenase (gdh) gene and a giardiavirus (GLV) genomic transcript, respectively. We now report a stable coexpression of luc gene with a neomycin phosphotransferase (neo(r)) gene in G. lamblia. An in vitro transcript of the construct pC670-Neo; containing the neo(r) encoding region flanked with the 5'670 nucleotides (nt) and the 3'2022 nt portion of GLV positive strand RNA, was electroporated into G. lamblia trophozoites that were infected with GLV. G418-resistant Giardia trophozoites were cloned, and the neo(r) mRNA in these clones was found to increase with increasing G418 pressure. This drug resistance remained stable upon continuous in vitro cultivation in the absence of G418 for over 15 days. Another plasmid pNeo/GDH/Luc, was constructed by inserting luc gene downstream from the neo(r) gene and the 193 nt 5' portion of gdh gene in pC670-Neo, and its bicistronic in vitro transcript was introduced into GLV-infected G. lamblia by electroporation. The transfectants demonstrated G418-resistance and persistent luciferase activity at levels parallel to the amount of G418 used for selection, peaking at a level of several thousand-fold above the background. Taken together, these data indicate that the neo(r) gene provides an effective selection marker for transformation of Giardia trophozoites, and the bicistronic RNA transfection vector may open the way for functional analysis of other genes in Giardia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amebicides / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cloning, Molecular / methods*
  • Drug Resistance
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Protozoan*
  • Genes, Reporter*
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Gentamicins / pharmacology*
  • Giardia lamblia / genetics*
  • Giardiavirus
  • Kanamycin Kinase
  • Luciferases / biosynthesis
  • Luciferases / genetics
  • Paromomycin / pharmacology
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor) / biosynthesis
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor) / genetics
  • Transformation, Genetic


  • Amebicides
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Gentamicins
  • Paromomycin
  • antibiotic G 418
  • Luciferases
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor)
  • Kanamycin Kinase