Improvement of expression of recombinant human protein C in the milk of transgenic animals using a novel transgene construct

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Virginia Tech

Past studies of mammary tissue specific expression of transgenes using the murine whey acidic protein (WAP) promoter have shown widely variable, position-dependent and copy number-dependent expression. This study evaluates a series of three WAP transgenes containing the cDNA of human protein C (hPC) for the expression of human protein C in the milk of mice. In two of the transgenes studied, the cDNA of (hPC) was inserted at the translational start site of a 7.8 kbp mouse WAP genomic DNA Eco RI fragment containing 2.6 kbp of 5’ flanking, 3.9 kbp WAP coding (exons and introns), and 1.3 kbp 3’ untranslated region (UTR) and flanking sequences (designated WAPPC1 and WAPPC2). A third transgene consisted of only the 2.6 kbp of WAP 5’ UTR and flanking DNA, 1.4 kbp hPC cDNA, and 1.3 kbp of 3’ WAP UTR and flanking DNA with no linker sequences (designated WAPPC3). The WAPPC1 and WAPPC2 transgenes expressed up to about 10 μg/ml recombinant hPC in mouse milk while WAPPC3 expressed 30-300 (n=10, n=5, n=11, number of founder lines evaluated for each transgene, respectively). In contrast to past studies with WAP-cDNA fusion transgenes where the maximal expression was about 5% of endogenous WAP expression, the WAPPC3 transgene gave maximal expression which was about 30% of endogenous WAP expression. Thus, results from the combination in WAPPC3 of intact 5’ and 3’ WAP UTR with the cDNA of hPC suggests that introns are not necessary to enable high level expression in the mammary gland when using WAP regulatory elements. Relative specific transcript and protein levels in the transgenic animals studied suggest that the rates of translation initiation may be different for the mRNAs of each of the transgenes studied.