Viral and chloroplastic signals essential for initiation and efficiency of translation in Agrobacterium tumefaciens

Ahmad T, Venkataraman S, Hefferon K, AbouHaidar MG

Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 2014 Sep;452(1):14-20

PMID: 25117444


The construction of high-level protein expression vectors using the CaMV 35S promoter in concert with highly efficient translation initiation signals for Agrobacterium tumefaciens is a relatively less explored field compared to that of Escherichia coli. In the current study, we experimentally investigated the capacity of the CaMV 35S promoter to direct GFP gene expression in A. tumefaciens in the context of different viral and chloroplastic translation initiation signals. GFP expression and concomitant translational efficiency was monitored by confocal microscopy and Western blot analysis. Among all of the constructs, the highest level of translation was observed for the construct containing the phage T7 translation initiation region followed by the chloroplastic Rubisco Large Subunit (rbcL) 58-nucleotide 5′ leader region including its SD-like sequence (GGGAGGG). Replacing the SD-like (GGGAGGG) with non SD-like (TTTATTT) or replacing the remaining 52 nucleotides of rbcL with nonspecific sequence completely abolished translation. In addition, this 58 nucleotide region of rbcL serves as a translational enhancer in plants when located within the 5′ UTR of mRNA corresponding to GFP. Other constructs, including those containing sequences upstream of the coat proteins of Alfalfa Mosaic Virus, or the GAGG sequence of T4 phage or the chloroplastic atpI and/or PsbA 5′ UTR sequence, supported low levels of GFP expression or none at all. From these studies, we propose that we have created high expression vectors in A. tumefaciens and/or plants which contain the CaMV 35S promoter, followed by the translationally strong T7 SD plus RBS translation initiation region or the rbcL 58-nucleotide 5′ leader region upstream of the gene of interest.