Transgenic control of perforin gene expression: Functional evidence for two separate control regions

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24 Scopus citations


Perforin is a pore-forming effector molecule of CTL and NK cells. To characterize perform gene expression and its transcriptional control mechanisms in vivo, expression of a cell surface tag, i.e., human CD4, was driven by 5.1 kb of the murine perform 5′ flanking and promoter region in transgenic mice. Six out of seven transgenic lines expressed the perforin-tag hybrid gene at low to intermediate levels, depending on the integration site. Tissues not yet reported to contain perforin-expressing lymphocytes were identified. Transgene expression occurred in all cells that physiologically are able to express perform, i.e., in T cells and NK cells, and in some T cells that normally may express little or no perforin. At the whole organ level, significant amounts of transgenic mRNA and endogenous perforin mRNA were co-expressed in the lymphoid organs, as well as in the lung, the ileum, the oviduct/uterus, and the bone marrow. At the single cell level, the perforin tag was present on NK cells and on CD8+, as well as on CD4+ T cells. Also targeted were Thy-1.2+ γδ T cells, but not Thy-1.2- γδ T cells, B cells, nor monocytes. During thymic T cell development, transgene expression occurred in double negative (CD4-CD8-) thymocytes and was detected at all subsequent stages, but exceeded the expression levels of the endogenous gene in the thymus. In conclusion, the analyzed perforin 5′ flanking and promoter region contains important cis-acting sequences that restrict perforin expression to T cells and NK cells, and therefore provides a unique tool for manipulating T cell and/or NK cell-mediated immune responses in transgenic mice. On the other hand, the normal control of perforin gene expression involves at least one additional negative control mechanism that was not mediated by the transgenic promoter and upstream region. This control restricts perforin gene expression in thymically developing T cells and in most resting peripheral T cells, but can be released upon T cell activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2153-2163
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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