FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Humanizing mouse folate metabolism: conversion of the dual-promoter mouse folylpolyglutamate synthetase gene to the human single-promoter structure.

PMID 24532667


The mouse is extensively used to model human folate metabolism and therapeutic outcomes with antifolates. However, the folylpoly-γ-glutamate synthetase (fpgs) gene, whose product determines folate/antifolate intracellular retention and antifolate antitumor activity, displays a pronounced species difference. The human gene uses only a single promoter, whereas the mouse uses two: P2, akin to the human promoter, at low levels in most tissues; and P1, an upstream promoter used extensively in liver and kidney. We deleted the mouse P1 promoter through homologous recombination to study the dual-promoter mouse system and to create a mouse with a humanized fpgs gene structure. Despite the loss of the predominant fpgs mRNA species in liver and kidney (representing 95 and 75% of fpgs transcripts in these tissues, respectively), P1-knockout mice developed and reproduced normally. The survival of these mice was explained by increased P2 transcription due to relief of transcriptional interference, by a 3-fold more efficient translation of P2-derived than P1-derived transcripts, and by 2-fold higher stability of P2-derived FPGS. In combination, all 3 effects reinstated FPGS function, even in liver. By eliminating mouse P1, we created a mouse model that mimicked the human housekeeping pattern of fpgs gene expression.