Escherichia coli Promoters with Consistent Expression throughout the Murine Gut

Jeremy Armetta, Michael Schantz-Klausen, Denis Shepelin, Ruben Vazquez-Uribe, Martin Iain Bahl, Martin Frederik Laursen, Tine Rask Licht, Morten O A Sommer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Advanced microbial therapeutics have great potential as a novel modality to diagnose and treat a wide range of diseases. Yet, to realize this potential, robust parts for regulating gene expression and consequent therapeutic activity in situ are needed. In this study, we characterized the expression level of more than 8000 variants of the Escherichia coli sigma factor 70 (σ70) promoter in a range of different environmental conditions and growth states using fluorescence-activated cell sorting and deep sequencing. Sampled conditions include aerobic and anaerobic culture in the laboratory as well as growth in several locations of the murine gastrointestinal tract. We found that σ70 promoters in E. coli generally maintain consistent expression levels across the murine gut (R2: 0.55-0.85, p value < 1 × 10-5), suggesting a limited environmental influence but a higher variability between in vitro and in vivo expression levels, highlighting the challenges of translating in vitro promoter activity to in vivo applications. Based on these data, we design the Schantzetta library, composed of eight promoters spanning a wide expression range and displaying a high degree of robustness in both laboratory and in vivo conditions (R2 = 0.98, p = 0.000827). This study provides a systematic assessment of the σ70 promoter activity in E. coli as it transits the murine gut leading to the definition of robust expression cassettes that could be a valuable tool for reliable engineering and development of advanced microbial therapeutics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalACS Synthetic Biology
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)3359–3368
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Probiotics
  • Promoter
  • Gut
  • Microbiota
  • Engineering
  • Flow-seq


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