Practical recommendations for the use of the GeneSwitch Gal4 system to knock-down genes in Drosophila melanogaster

Antoniewski, C., Scialo, F., Sriram, A., Stefanatos, R. and Sanz, A. (2016) Practical recommendations for the use of the GeneSwitch Gal4 system to knock-down genes in Drosophila melanogaster. PLoS ONE, 11(8), e0161817. (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0161817) (PMID:27570965) (PMCID:PMC5003377)

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Drosophila melanogaster is a popular research model organism thanks to its’ powerful genetic tools that allow spatial and temporal control of gene expression. The inducible GeneSwitch Gal4 system (GS) system is a modified version of the classic UAS/GAL4 system which allows inducible regulation of gene expression and eliminates background effects. It is widely acknowledged that the GS system is leaky, with low level expression of UAS transgenes in absence of the inducer RU-486 (the progesterone analog that activates the modified GAL4 protein). However, in the course of our experiments, we have observed that the extent of this leak depends on the nature of the transgene being expressed. In the absence of RU-486, when strong drivers are used to express protein coding transgenes, leaky expression is low or negligible, however expression of RNA interference (RNAi) transgenes results in complete depletion of protein levels. The majority of published studies, using the GS system and RNAi transgenes validate knock-down efficiency by comparing target gene mRNA levels between induced and non-induced groups. Here, we demonstrate that this approach is lacking and that both additional control groups and further validation is required at the protein level. Unfortunately, this experimental limitation of the GS system eliminates “the background advantage”, but does offer the possibility of performing more complex experiments (e.g. studying depletion and overexpression of different proteins in the same genetic background). The limitations and new possible applications of the GS system are discussed in detail.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:
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his study is supported by the European Research Council (260632 - ComplexI&Aging
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Sanz Montero, Professor Alberto
Authors: Antoniewski, C., Scialo, F., Sriram, A., Stefanatos, R., and Sanz, A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Molecular Cell and Systems Biology
Journal Name:PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN (Online):1932-6203
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 Scialo et al.
First Published:First published in PLoS ONE 11:e0161817
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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