Enhanced and specific gene expression via tissue-specific production of Cre recombinase using adenovirus vector

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1998 Mar 17;244(2):455-62. doi: 10.1006/bbrc.1997.8087.


A tissue-specific promoter is potentially valuable for the study of specific gene function and for gene therapy, as it permits a linked cytotoxic or any other gene to be expressed specifically in target cells. The expression levels of such promoters are generally low, and we have therefore developed a novel and general method to enhance the expression level of a tissue-specific promoter while maintaining specificity. We constructed a "regulator" recombinant adenovirus (rAd) producing the site-specific recombinase Cre under the control of the hepatocarcinoma-specific alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) promoter. The rAd was infected to AFP-producing cells together with a "target" rAd containing a Cre-activating potent expression unit. In in vitro experiments, the double infection method gave about 50-fold higher expression than the single rAd infection directly driven by the AFP promoter, while maintaining strict specificity to AFP-producing cells. The enhanced and specific expression was also observed in in vivo tumor models. This method may contribute not only to the establishment of specific gene therapies but also to basic study for elucidating cell-type specific gene functions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Genetic Vectors
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Integrases / biosynthesis*
  • Integrases / genetics*
  • Lac Operon
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Viral Proteins*
  • alpha-Fetoproteins / biosynthesis
  • alpha-Fetoproteins / genetics


  • Viral Proteins
  • alpha-Fetoproteins
  • Cre recombinase
  • Integrases