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Suicide genes code for enzymes, such as cytosine deaminase (CD), that convert non-toxic compounds (prodrugs) into toxic products. CD converts cytosine and its analog, 5-fluorocytosine (5-FC), to uracil and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) respectively. 5-FU is a toxic compound commonly used as anticancer drug.
To increase the efficiency of the CD/5-FC pair, InvivoGen has fused the gene encoding uracil phosphoribosyl transferase (UPRT) to the CD gene. UPRT converts 5-FU to 5-FUMP, an irreversible inhibitor of thymidylate synthase. CD::UPRT fusions are 100 times more efficient than the CD genes alone and provide greater bystander effect. The CD::UPRT fusion gene is provided in the expression plasmid pSelect-zeo which is selectable with Zeocin™ in mammalian and E.coli cells.
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