Short, Synthetic Promoters for High Level Expression in Yeast

Life Sciences : Research Tools

Available for non-exclusive licensing


  • Hal Alper, Ph.D. , Chemical Engineering
  • Heidi Redden , University of Texas at Austin

Background/unmet need

The ability to control gene expression reliably is a central premise in multiple fields including metabolic engineering, synthetic biology, and genetic engineering. This capacity has strong implications for both basic genetic research as well as the production of fuels, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals.

Different fungal platforms are currently being explored for the sustainable and green production of many useful chemicals and biofuels. The ability to fine-tune the control of desired genes in these yeasts would be greatly beneficial and could enhance the production capacity in these organisms. Moreover, a shift away from commonly used endogenous parts to short, synthetic parts would enable more rapid and reliable strain engineering.

Invention Description

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have created short, synthetic promoters (typically under 100 bp) for both Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Yarrowia lipolytica, two yeasts that are used in biofuel and chemical production. These promoters can be used in an expression cassette to control the gene expression in these organisms, require very little DNA, and exhibit no homology to endogenous promoters and terminators. In many cases, the function of these short parts meet or exceed the value of standard endogenous promoters, enabling more rapid enhancement of gene expression.


  •  No homology to genome
  • Less DNA required
  • Less gene manipulation required for increased expression

Market potential/applications

 Synthetic biology, bio-based chemical industry, enzyme industry

Development Stage

Lab/bench prototype

IP Status

  • 1 U.S. patent application filed