Context: I have seen promoters used to have gene therapy viruses target specific cells, so I am referring to that apparent function of theirs. As an example I have seen GFAP promoters used for targeting astrocytes (I have seen this in many more papers but this is the first one I found on google).

I am curious what the purpose of the EF1-alpha promoter in a lentil/retro/Adeno-Associated virus for gene expression is?

It would seem that it is often used for targeting embryonic stem cells, but then I had also seen else where that "The Lenti-X Expression System (EF1α Version) enables you to produce exceptionally high titers of recombinant lentivirus for expression of any cDNA in any cell type susceptible to lentiviral transduction." This made me think that perhaps since this promoter 'targets' stem cells which later turn into any type of cell, that this quote meant that the EF1-alpha promoter can be used to indiscriminately target cells? Is this true?

Please forgive any incorrect assumptions on my part, I am a novice in this field.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Biology.SE! Please take the tour and then go through the help center pages starting with How to Ask questions effectively on this site and edit your question accordingly. In particular, please clarify your question. You appear to be unclear on the function of promoters (driving transcription) — they don't have any direct connection to viral targeting. Thanks! 😊 $\endgroup$ – tyersome Dec 28 '20 at 19:00
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    $\begingroup$ I have found that when learning about a new area starting with a relatively accessible and reliable source like Khan Academy is very helpful. Wikipedia is also generally a good starting point and you can then check their references. Online platforms called MOOCs offer free (or very low cost) courses on a wide variety of subjects — two I am familiar with are Coursera and edX. Finally, textbooks with a good level of detail are also freely available online e.g. from NCBI. $\endgroup$ – tyersome Dec 28 '20 at 19:00
  • $\begingroup$ I've heard though that GFAP promoters are used for astrocyte targeting? Is this a special case? P.S. I have seen this done in many more papers this is just the first one I found on google. $\endgroup$ – profPlum Dec 30 '20 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ thanks for the recommendations! $\endgroup$ – profPlum Dec 31 '20 at 15:55

EF1-alpha is considered a ubiquitous/constitutive promoter; it is effective in all animal cells and tends to provide strong expression. Embryonic (and other) stem cells are more difficult to target than other cells because they don't express genes under the cell-type specific promoters that are often used for other populations of cells, which is why you're seeing it used specifically for that application, but that's not the only use.

You'll find a lot of the promoter information on individual commercial sites and rather than promoting specific ones I'd suggest searches like https://www.google.com/search?q=ef1+alpha+constituitive or https://www.google.com/search?q=ef1+alpha+ubiquitous - use of EF1-alpha isn't "owned" by anyone so when they say these things it's not just because they're trying to sell you on some special method of theirs, they are just using a field standard approach.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, ya I wasn't trying to 'promote' a site. I just wanted to understand their claim in the wider context of the field of genetic engineering itself. $\endgroup$ – profPlum Dec 30 '20 at 20:17
  • $\begingroup$ So to clarify your saying that yes it can be used to target any cell type? $\endgroup$ – profPlum Dec 30 '20 at 20:18
  • $\begingroup$ @profPlum Yes. With the caveat that any time you say "any" or "every" or "always" or "never" in biology someone will find you a counterexample (the previous sentence with "any time" in it also follows this rule). Also every species has a different EF-1 alpha promoter, and they may or may not be compatible. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Dec 30 '20 at 20:24
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    $\begingroup$ Haha I think you may have stumbled upon a rule that is not limited to biology but more or less universal. In CIS it is called the law of leaky abstractions. But great that is what I wanted to know! $\endgroup$ – profPlum Dec 30 '20 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ P.S. here is the link to what I mentioned: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leaky_abstraction $\endgroup$ – profPlum Dec 31 '20 at 15:54

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