We identified an RNA aptamer that induces TetR-controlled gene expression in Escherichia coli when expressed in the cell. The aptamer was found by a combined approach of in vitro selection for TetR binding and in vivo screening for TetR induction. The smallest active aptamer folds into a stem-loop with an internal loop interrupting the stem. Mutational analysis in vivo and in-line probing in vitro reveal this loop to be the protein binding site. The TetR-inducing activity of the aptamer directly correlates with its stability and the best construct is as efficient as the natural inducer tetracycline. Because of its small size, high induction efficiency, and the stability of the TetR aptamer under in vivo conditions, it is well suited to be an alternative RNA-based inducer of TetR-controlled gene expression.
- TN10 tet repressor