Although the inducible prokaryotic lac repressor system has been successfully adapted for control of gene expression in mammalian cells, little information is available on the pharmacokinetics of beta-galactoside inducers in mammalian cells for optimizing this system. These studies directly measure the cell uptake and clearance in cultured cells and animal tissue cells of lac inducers. In these cells, the beta-galactosides, isopropyl beta-D-thiogalactoside (IPTG) and methyl beta-D-thiogalactoside (MTG), are rapidly taken up, exceeding extracellular levels in less than 2 hours. Greater than 5% of this inducer is found in the nuclear fraction, slightly exceeding the cytoplasmic concentration. Although similar in uptake, IPTG is cleared from the cultured cells significantly faster than MTG. In the mouse, the half-life of both inducers in the blood ranges from 15-30 minutes. HPLC analysis of tissue extracts from inducer-injected mice indicates that the inducer is metabolically stable and functionally able to bind to lac repressor. These results should permit improvement in the adaptation of the lac repressor system to mammalian cells and aid in the development of an adaptable system for gene control in transgenic animals.
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