We have used a highly sensitive biochemical microassay to monitor the expression of a cloned minigene for hypoxanthine phosphoribosyl transferase (HPRT, EC. in preimplantation mouse embryos. The mouse HPRT promoter and the mouse metallothionein promoter (MT-I) function equally well in embryos at the 2-cell stage whereas the viral SV40 promoter does not allow HPRT expression. Induced HPRT activity from the MT-I HPRT minigene construct occurs in cleavage embryos cultured in the presence of cadmium. In contrast, negation of enzyme expression from the injected minigene DNA is mediated by simultaneous injection of HPRT antisense DNA.

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