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Expression of transgenes is central to forward and reverse genetic analysis in Trypanosoma brucei. The inducible expression of transgenes in trypanosomes is based on the tetracycline repressor binding to a tetracycline operator to prevent transcription in the absence of tetracycline. The same inducible system is used to produce double-stranded RNA for RNAi knockdown of target genes. This study describes a new plasmid pSPR2.1 that drives consistent high-level expression of tetracycline repressor in procyclic form trypanosomes. A complementary expression plasmid, p3227, was constructed. The major difference between this and current plasmids is the separation of the inducible transgene and selectable marker promoters by the plasmid backbone. The plasmid p3227 was able to support inducible expression in cell lines containing pSPR2.1 as well as the established Lister 427 29-13 cell line. p3666, a derivative of p3227, was made for inducible expression of stem loop RNAi constructs and was effective for knockdown of DRBD3, which had proved problematic using existing RNAi plasmids with head-to-head promoters. The plasmid system was also able to support inducible transgene expression and DRBD3 RNAi knockdown in bloodstream form cells expressing tetracycline repressor from an integrated copy of the plasmid pHD1313.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases, Genetic Engineering, Plasmids, RNA Interference, Transgenes, Trypanosoma brucei brucei, Viral Proteins