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1.  Development of a Markerless Genetic Exchange Method for Methanosarcina acetivorans C2A and Its Use in Construction of New Genetic Tools for Methanogenic Archaea 
A new genetic technique for constructing mutants of Methanosarcina acetivorans C2A by using hpt as a counterselectable marker was developed. Mutants with lesions in the hpt gene, encoding hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase, were shown to be >35-fold more resistant to the toxic base analog 8-aza-2,6-diaminopurine (8ADP) than was the wild type. Reintroduction of the hpt gene into a Δhpt host restored 8ADP sensitivity and provided the basis for a two-step strategy involving plasmid integration and excision for recombination of mutant alleles onto the M. acetivorans chromosome. We have designated this method markerless exchange because, although selectable markers are used during the process, they are removed in the final mutants. Thus, the method can be repeated many times in the same cell line. The method was validated by construction of ΔproC Δhpt mutants, which were recovered at a frequency of 22%. Additionally, a Methanosarcina-Escherichia shuttle vector, encoding the Escherichia coli proC gene as a new selectable marker, was constructed for use in proC hosts. Finally, the markerless exchange method was used to recombine a series of uidA reporter gene fusions into the M. acetivorans proC locus. In vitro assay of β-glucuronidase activity in extracts of these recombinants demonstrated, for the first time, the utility of uidA as a reporter gene in Methanosarcina. A >5,000-fold range of promoter activities could be measured by using uidA: the methyl-coenzyme M reductase operon fusion displayed ∼300-fold-higher activity than did the serC gene fusion, which in turn had 16-fold-higher activity than did a fusion to the unknown orf2 gene.
PMCID: PMC368415  PMID: 15006762
2.  Allelic Exchange in Actinomyces oris with mCherry Fluorescence Counterselection ▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2010;76(17):5987-5989.
Described here is a method for facile generation of markerless gene deletion mutants of Actinomyces oris. Homologous integration of a nonreplicative vector carrying a gene exchange cassette into the bacterial chromosome was selected for by using mCherry fluorescence and resistance to kanamycin. Completion of allelic replacement was counterselected for by using loss of fluorescence.
PMCID: PMC2935053  PMID: 20601506
3.  Development of a Markerless Genetic Exchange System for Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough and Its Use in Generating a Strain with Increased Transformation Efficiency▿ † 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2009;75(24):7682-7691.
In recent years, the genetic manipulation of the sulfate-reducing bacterium Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough has seen enormous progress. In spite of this progress, the current marker exchange deletion method does not allow for easy selection of multiple sequential gene deletions in a single strain because of the limited number of selectable markers available in D. vulgaris. To broaden the repertoire of genetic tools for manipulation, an in-frame, markerless deletion system has been developed. The counterselectable marker that makes this deletion system possible is the pyrimidine salvage enzyme, uracil phosphoribosyltransferase, encoded by upp. In wild-type D. vulgaris, growth was shown to be inhibited by the toxic pyrimidine analog 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), whereas a mutant bearing a deletion of the upp gene was resistant to 5-FU. When a plasmid containing the wild-type upp gene expressed constitutively from the aph(3′)-II promoter (promoter for the kanamycin resistance gene in Tn5) was introduced into the upp deletion strain, sensitivity to 5-FU was restored. This observation allowed us to develop a two-step integration and excision strategy for the deletion of genes of interest. Since this in-frame deletion strategy does not retain an antibiotic cassette, multiple deletions can be generated in a single strain without the accumulation of genes conferring antibiotic resistances. We used this strategy to generate a deletion strain lacking the endonuclease (hsdR, DVU1703) of a type I restriction-modification system that we designated JW7035. The transformation efficiency of the JW7035 strain was found to be 100 to 1,000 times greater than that of the wild-type strain when stable plasmids were introduced via electroporation.
PMCID: PMC2794091  PMID: 19837844
4.  Genetic modification of substrate specificity of hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase in Salmonella typhimurium. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1975;121(1):77-82.
Salmonella typhimurium strain GP660 (proAB-gpt deletion, purE) lacks guanine phosphoribosyltransferase and hence cannot utilize guanine as a purine source and is resistant to inhibition by 8-azaguanine. Strain GP660 was mutagenized and a derivative strain (GP36) was isolated for utilization of guanine and hypoxanthine, but not xanthine, as purine sources. This alteration was designated sug. The strain was then sensitive to inhibition by 8-azaguanine. Column chromatographic analysis revealed the altered phosphoribosyltransferase peaks for both hypoxanthine and guanine to be located together, in the same position as hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (hpt gene product) of the wild-type strain. Genetic analysis showed the sug mutation to be allelic with hpt. Therefore sug represented a modification of the substrate specificity of the hpt gene product.
PMCID: PMC285615  PMID: 1090579
5.  Identification of the gene for disaggregatase from Methanosarcina mazei  
Archaea  2008;2(3):185-191.
The gene sequences encoding disaggregatase (Dag), the enzyme responsible for dispersion of cell aggregates of Methanosarcina mazei to single cells, were determined for three strains of M. mazei (S-6T, LYC and TMA). The dag genes of the three strains were 3234 bp in length and had almost the same sequences with 97% amino acid sequence identities. Dag was predicted to comprise 1077 amino acid residues and to have a molecular mass of 120 kDa containing three repeats of the DNRLRE domain in the C terminus, which is specific to the genus Methanosarcina and may be responsible for structural organization and cell wall function. Recombinant Dag was overexpressed in Escherichia coli and preparations of the expressed protein exhibited enzymatic activity. The RT-PCR analysis showed that dag was transcribed to mRNA in M. mazei LYC and indicated that the gene was expressed in vivo. This is the first time the gene involved in the morphological change of Methanosarcina spp. from aggregate to single cells has been identified.
PMCID: PMC2685598  PMID: 19054745
methanochondroitin; morphological change
6.  Novel System for Efficient Isolation of Clostridium Double-Crossover Allelic Exchange Mutants Enabling Markerless Chromosomal Gene Deletions and DNA Integration 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(22):8112-8121.
Isolation of Clostridium mutants based on gene replacement via allelic exchange remains a major limitation for this important genus. Use of a heterologous counterselection marker can facilitate the identification of the generally rare allelic exchange events. We report on the development of an inducible counterselection marker and describe its utility and broad potential in quickly and efficiently generating markerless DNA deletions and integrations at any genomic locus without the need for auxotrophic mutants or the use of the mobile group II introns. This system is based on a codon-optimized mazF toxin gene from Escherichia coli under the control of a lactose-inducible promoter from Clostridium perfringens. This system is potentially applicable to almost all members of the genus Clostridium due to their similarly low genomic GC content and comparable codon usage. We isolated all allelic-exchange-based gene deletions (ca_p0167, sigF, and sigK) or disruptions (ca_p0157 and sigF) we attempted and integrated a 3.6-kb heterologous DNA sequence (made up of a Clostridium ljungdahlii 2.1-kb formate dehydrogenase [fdh] gene plus a FLP recombination target [FRT]-flanked thiamphenicol resistance marker) into the Clostridium acetobutylicum chromosome. Furthermore, we report on the development of a plasmid system with inducible segregational instability, thus enabling efficient deployment of the FLP-FRT system to generate markerless deletion or integration mutants. This enabled expeditious deletion of the thiamphenicol resistance marker from the fdh integrant strain as well as the sigK deletion strain. More generally, our system can potentially be applied to other organisms with underdeveloped genetic tools.
PMCID: PMC3485963  PMID: 22983967
7.  Markerless Mutagenesis in Methanococcus maripaludis Demonstrates Roles for Alanine Dehydrogenase, Alanine Racemase, and Alanine Permease 
Journal of Bacteriology  2005;187(3):972-979.
Among the archaea, Methanococcus maripaludis has the unusual ability to use l- or d-alanine as a nitrogen source. To understand how this occurs, we tested the roles of three adjacent genes encoding homologs of alanine dehydrogenase, alanine racemase, and alanine permease. To produce mutations in these genes, we devised a method for markerless mutagenesis that builds on previously established genetic tools for M. maripaludis. The technique uses a negative selection strategy that takes advantage of the ability of the M. maripaludis hpt gene encoding hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase to confer sensitivity to the base analog 8-azahypoxanthine. In addition, we developed a negative selection method to stably incorporate constructs into the genome at the site of the upt gene encoding uracil phosphoribosyltransferase. Mutants with in-frame deletion mutations in the genes for alanine dehydrogenase and alanine permease lost the ability to grow on either isomer of alanine, while a mutant with an in-frame deletion mutation in the gene for alanine racemase lost only the ability to grow on d-alanine. The wild-type gene for alanine dehydrogenase, incorporated into the upt site, complemented the alanine dehydrogenase mutation. Hence, the permease is required for the transport of either isomer, the dehydrogenase is specific for the l isomer, and the racemase converts the d isomer to the l isomer. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that all three genes had been acquired by lateral gene transfer from the low-moles-percent G+C gram-positive bacteria.
PMCID: PMC545699  PMID: 15659675
8.  Development of a Novel Genetic System To Create Markerless Deletion Mutants of Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2007;73(15):4717-4724.
Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus is a species of unique obligate predatory bacteria that utilize gram-negative bacteria as prey. Their life cycle alternates between a motile extracellular phase and a growth phase within the prey cell periplasm. The mechanism of prey cell invasion and the genetic networks and regulation during the life cycle have not been elucidated. The obligate predatory nature of the B. bacteriovorus life cycle suggests the use of this bacterium in potential applications involving pathogen control but adds complexity to the development of practical genetic systems that can be used to determine gene function. This work reports the development of a genetic technique for allelic exchange or gene inactivation by construction of in-frame markerless deletion mutants including the use of a counterselectable marker in B. bacteriovorus. A suicide plasmid carrying the sacB gene for counterselection was used to inactivate the strB gene in B. bacteriovorus HD100 by an in-frame deletion. Despite the inactivation of the strB gene, B. bacteriovorus was found to retain resistance to high concentrations of streptomycin. The stability of a plasmid for use in complementation experiments was also investigated, and it was determined that pMMB206 replicates autonomously in B. bacteriovorus. Development of this practical genetic system now facilitates the study of B. bacteriovorus at the molecular level and will aid in understanding the regulatory networks and gene function in this fascinating predatory bacterium.
PMCID: PMC1951038  PMID: 17557848
9.  Development of a Method for Markerless Gene Deletion in Pseudomonas putida ▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2011;77(15):5549-5552.
We developed a negative counterselection system for Pseudomonas putida based on uracil phosphoribosyltransferase (UPRTase) and sensitivity against the antimetabolite 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). We constructed a P. putida strain that is resistant to 5-FU and constructed vectors for the deletion of the surface adhesion protein gene, the flagellum biosynthesis operon, and two endonuclease genes. The genes were efficiently disrupted and left a markerless chromosomal in-frame deletion.
PMCID: PMC3147467  PMID: 21666018
10.  Characterization of GlnK1 from Methanosarcina mazei Strain Gö1: Complementation of an Escherichia coli glnK Mutant Strain by GlnK1 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(4):1028-1040.
Trimeric PII-like signal proteins are known to be involved in bacterial regulation of ammonium assimilation and nitrogen fixation. We report here the first biochemical characterization of an archaeal GlnK protein from the diazotrophic methanogenic archaeon Methanosarcina mazei strain Gö1 and show that M. mazei GlnK1 is able to functionally complement an Escherichia coli glnK mutant for growth on arginine. This indicates that the archaeal GlnK protein substitutes for the regulatory function of E. coli GlnK. M. mazei GlnK1 is encoded in the glnK1-amtB1 operon, which is transcriptionally regulated by the availability of combined nitrogen and is only transcribed in the absence of ammonium. The deduced amino acid sequence of the archaeal glnK1 shows 44% identity to the E. coli GlnK and contains the conserved tyrosine residue (Tyr-51) in the T-loop structure. M. mazei glnK1 was cloned and overexpressed in E. coli, and GlnK1 was purified to apparent homogeneity. A molecular mass of 42 kDa was observed under native conditions, indicating that its native form is a trimer. GlnK1-specific antibodies were raised and used to confirm the in vivo trimeric form by Western analysis. In vivo ammonium upshift experiments and analysis of purified GlnK1 indicated significant differences compared to E. coli GlnK. First, GlnK1 from M. mazei is not covalently modified by uridylylation under nitrogen limitation. Second, heterotrimers between M. mazei GlnK1 and Klebsiella pneumoniae GlnK are not formed. Because M. mazei GlnK1 was able to complement growth of an E. coli glnK mutant with arginine as the sole nitrogen source, it is likely that uridylylation is not required for its regulatory function.
PMCID: PMC134814  PMID: 11807063
11.  Isolation and characterization of disaggregatase from Methanosarcina mazei LYC. 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1990;56(12):3693-3698.
At certain stages in its growth cycle, Methanosarcina mazei produces an enzyme (disaggregatase) that causes aggregates to separate into single cells. M. mazei S-6 and LYC both produce this enzymatic activity, although the specificities of activities differ. The disaggregatase of M. mazei S-6 had little effect on strain LYC cells, but the disaggregatase of M. mazei LYC disaggregated both strain LYC and strain S-6 cells. The disaggregatase of M. mazei LYC was purified by column chromatography, and it apparently consisted of two similar subunits with a combined molecular size of about 180,000 Da. Strain S-6 culture supernatants contained 14 U of activity per liter when activity was measured as uronic acids released from purified cell wall material. When the activity was quantified as the release of uronic acids from boiled M. mazei S-6 cells, the highest activity was found at pH 4.7 and at 35 degrees C.
PMCID: PMC185053  PMID: 2082820
12.  A urease-negative mutant of Helicobacter pylori constructed by allelic exchange mutagenesis lacks the ability to colonize the nude mouse stomach. 
Infection and Immunity  1994;62(8):3586-3589.
The urease of Helicobacter pylori has been proposed to be one of its pathogenic factors. A kanamycin resistance determinant was inserted in a cloned urease gene, and transformation-mediated allelic exchange mutagenesis was carried out to introduce the disrupted gene into the corresponding wild-type chromosomal region of a clinical isolate of H. pylori, CPY3401. The resulting mutant, HPT73, had the null activity of urease. Nude mouse stomachs were challenged with these two isogenic strains to examine the role of urease in pathogenesis. Gastritis was found in the CPY3401-challenged stomachs, from which bacteria indistinguishable from CPY3401 were recovered. There was no gastritis in the HPT73-challenged stomachs, and we could not recover H. pylori from them. These results indicated that H. pylori urease is essential for colonizing the nude mouse stomach.
PMCID: PMC303000  PMID: 8039935
13.  An archaeal sRNA targeting cis- and trans-encoded mRNAs via two distinct domains 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(21):10964-10979.
We report on the characterization and target analysis of the small (s)RNA162 in the methanoarchaeon Methanosarcina mazei. Using a combination of genetic approaches, transcriptome analysis and computational predictions, the bicistronic MM2441-MM2440 mRNA encoding the transcription factor MM2441 and a protein of unknown function was identified as a potential target of this sRNA, which due to processing accumulates as three stabile 5′ fragments in late exponential growth. Mobility shift assays using various mutants verified that the non-structured single-stranded linker region of sRNA162 (SLR) base-pairs with the MM2440-MM2441 mRNA internally, thereby masking the predicted ribosome binding site of MM2441. This most likely leads to translational repression of the second cistron resulting in dis-coordinated operon expression. Analysis of mutant RNAs in vivo confirmed that the SLR of sRNA162 is crucial for target interactions. Furthermore, our results indicate that sRNA162-controlled MM2441 is involved in regulating the metabolic switch between the carbon sources methanol and methylamine. Moreover, biochemical studies demonstrated that the 5′ end of sRNA162 targets the 5′-untranslated region of the cis-encoded MM2442 mRNA. Overall, this first study of archaeal sRNA/mRNA-target interactions unraveled that sRNA162 acts as an antisense (as)RNA on cis- and trans-encoded mRNAs via two distinct domains, indicating that cis-encoded asRNAs can have larger target regulons than previously anticipated.
PMCID: PMC3510493  PMID: 22965121
14.  Development of a host-genotype-independent counterselectable marker and a high-frequency conjugative delivery system and their use in genetic analysis of Enterococcus faecalis 
Plasmid  2006;57(2):131-144.
Enterococcus faecalis is a Gram-positive commensal bacterium of the gastrointestinal tract. E. faecalis is also an opportunistic pathogen that frequently exhibits resistance to available antibiotics. Despite the clinical significance of the enterococci, genetic analysis has been restricted by limitations inherent in the available genetic tools. To facilitate genetic manipulation of E. faecalis, we developed a conjugative delivery system for high-frequency introduction of cloned DNA into target strains of E. faecalis and a host-genotype-independent counterselectable marker for use in markerless genetic exchange. We used these tools to construct a collection of E. faecalis mutant strains carrying defined mutations in several genes, including ccfA, eep, gelE, sprE, and an alternative sigma factor (sigH). Furthermore, we combined these mutations in various permutations to create double mutants, triple mutants, and a quadruple mutant of E. faecalis that enabled tests of epistasis to be conducted on the pheromone biosynthesis pathway. Analysis of cCF10 pheromone production by the mutants revealed that both the ccfA2 and Δeep10 mutations are epistatic to mutations in gelE/sprE. To our knowledge, this represents the first example of epistasis analysis applied to a chromosomally encoded biosynthetic pathway in enterococci. Thus, the advanced tools for genetic manipulation of E. faecalis reported here enable efficient and sophisticated genetic analysis of these important pathogens.
PMCID: PMC1852458  PMID: 16996131
counterselection; pheS; markerless exchange; epistasis; Enterococcus faecalis; p-chloro-phenylalanine; pheromone biosynthesis
15.  Genetic Tools To Enhance the Study of Gene Function and Regulation in Staphylococcus aureus 
The bursa aurealis transposon has been used to create transposon insertion libraries of Bacillus anthracis and Staphylococcus aureus. To provide a set of genetic tools to enhance the utility of these libraries, we generated an allelic-exchange system that allows for the replacement of the transposon with useful genetic markers and fluorescent reporter genes. These tools were tested in the Nebraska Transposon Mutant Library (NTML), containing defined transposon insertions in 1,952 nonessential S. aureus genes. First, we generated a plasmid that allows researchers to replace the genes encoding green fluorescent protein (GFP) and erythromycin resistance in the transposon with a noncoding DNA fragment, leaving a markerless mutation within the chromosome. Second, we produced allelic-exchange plasmids to replace the transposon with alternate antibiotic resistance cassettes encoding tetracycline, kanamycin, and spectinomycin resistance, allowing for the simultaneous selection of multiple chromosomal mutations. Third, we generated a series of fluorescent reporter constructs that, after allelic exchange, generate transcriptional reporters encoding codon-optimized enhanced cyan fluorescent protein (ECFP), enhanced yellow fluorescent protein (EYFP), DsRed.T3(DNT), and eqFP650, as well as superfolder green fluorescent protein (sGFP). Overall, combining the NTML with this allelic-exchange system provides an unparalleled resource for the study of S. aureus.
PMCID: PMC3623228  PMID: 23354696
16.  Development of a Gene Knockout System for the Halophilic Archaeon Haloferax volcanii by Use of the pyrE Gene 
Journal of Bacteriology  2003;185(3):772-778.
So far, the extremely halophilic archaeon Haloferax volcanii has the best genetic tools among the archaea. However, the lack of an efficient gene knockout system for this organism has hampered further genetic studies. In this paper we describe the development of pyrE-based positive selection and counterselection systems to generate an efficient gene knockout system. The H. volacanii pyrE1 and pyrE2 genes were isolated, and the pyrE2 gene was shown to code for the physiological enzyme orotate phosphoribosyl transferase. A ΔpyrE2 strain was constructed and used to isolate deletion mutants by the following two steps: (i) integration of a nonreplicative plasmid carrying both the pyrE2 wild-type gene, as a selectable marker, and a cloned chromosomal DNA fragment containing a deletion in the desired gene; and (ii) excision of the integrated plasmid after selection with 5-fluoroorotic acid. Application of this gene knockout system is described.
PMCID: PMC142808  PMID: 12533452
17.  Functional organization of a single nif cluster in the mesophilic archaeon Methanosarcina mazei strain Gö1 
Archaea  2002;1(2):143-150.
The mesophilic methanogenic archaeon Methanosarcina mazei strain Gö1 is able to utilize molecular nitrogen (N2) as its sole nitrogen source. We have identified and characterized a single nitrogen fixation (nif) gene cluster in M. mazei Gö1 with an approximate length of 9 kbp. Sequence analysis revealed seven genes with sequence similarities to nifH, nifI1, nifI2, nifD, nifK, nifE and nifN, similar to other diazotrophic methanogens and certain bacteria such as Clostridium acetobutylicum, with the two glnB-like genes (nifI1 and nifI2) located between nifH and nifD. Phylogenetic analysis of deduced amino acid sequences for the nitrogenase structural genes of M. mazei Gö1 showed that they are most closely related to Methanosarcina barkeri nif2 genes, and also closely resemble those for the corresponding nif products of the gram-positive bacterium C. acetobutylicum. Northern blot analysis and reverse transcription PCR analysis demonstrated that the M. mazei nif genes constitute an operon transcribed only under nitrogen starvation as a single 8 kb transcript. Sequence analysis revealed a palindromic sequence at the transcriptional start site in front of the M. mazei nifH gene, which may have a function in transcriptional regulation of the nif operon.
PMCID: PMC2685556  PMID: 15803652
GlnB-like proteins; nif genes; nitrogen fixation; nitrogen regulation
18.  Differences in Hydrogenase Gene Expression between Methanosarcina acetivorans and Methanosarcina barkeri▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2009;191(8):2826-2833.
Methanosarcina acetivorans C2A encodes three putative hydrogenases, including one cofactor F420-linked (frh) and two methanophenazine-linked (vht) enzymes. Comparison of the amino acid sequences of these putative hydrogenases to those of Methanosarcina barkeri and Methanosarcina mazei shows that each predicted subunit contains all the known residues essential for hydrogenase function. The DNA sequences upstream of the genes in M. acetivorans were aligned with those in other Methanosarcina species to identify conserved transcription and translation signals. The M. acetivorans vht promoter region is well conserved among the sequenced Methanosarcina species, while the second vht-type homolog (here called vhx) and frh promoters have only limited similarity. To experimentally determine whether these promoters are functional in vivo, we constructed and characterized both M. acetivorans and M. barkeri strains carrying reporter gene fusions to each of the M. acetivorans and M. barkeri hydrogenase promoters. Generally, the M. acetivorans gene fusions are not expressed in either organism, suggesting that cis-acting mutations inactivated the M. acetivorans promoters. The M. barkeri hydrogenase gene fusions, on the other hand, are expressed in both organisms, indicating that M. acetivorans possesses the machinery to express hydrogenases, although it does not express its own hydrogenases. These data are consistent with specific inactivation of the M. acetivorans hydrogenase promoters and highlight the importance of testing hypotheses generated by using genomic data.
PMCID: PMC2668380  PMID: 19201801
19.  A Novel Inducible Protein Production System and Neomycin Resistance as Selection Marker for Methanosarcina mazei 
Archaea  2012;2012:973743.
Methanosarcina mazei is one of the model organisms for the methanogenic order Methanosarcinales whose metabolism has been studied in detail. However, the genetic toolbox is still limited. This study was aimed at widening the scope of utilizable methods in this group of organisms. (i) Proteins specific to methanogens are oftentimes difficult to produce in E. coli. However, a protein production system is not available for methanogens. Here we present an inducible system to produce Strep-tagged proteins in Ms. mazei. The promoter p1687, which directs the transcription of methyl transferases that demethylate methylamines, was cloned into plasmid pWM321 and its activity was determined by monitoring β-glucuronidase production. The promoter was inactive during growth on methanol but was rapidly activated when trimethylamine was added to the medium. The gene encoding the β-glucuronidase from E. coli was fused to a Strep-tag and was cloned downstream of the p1687 promoter. The protein was overproduced in Ms. mazei and was purified in an active form by affinity chromatography. (ii) Puromycin is currently the only antibiotic used as a selectable marker in Ms. mazei and its relatives. We established neomycin resistance as a second selectable marker by designing a plasmid that confers neomycin resistance in Ms. mazei.
PMCID: PMC3407599  PMID: 22851906
20.  In Situ Reverse Transcription-PCR for Monitoring Gene Expression in Individual Methanosarcina mazei S-6 Cells 
An in situ reverse transcription-PCR protocol for detecting specific mRNA in Methanosarcina mazei S-6 is described. This method allowed us to detect heat shock-induced increases in the intracellular levels of the transcript of the universal stress gene dnaK. The cell walls of paraformaldehyde-fixed cells were permeabilized by a thermal cycling procedure or by lysozyme treatment, and the cellular DNA was removed with DNase. The cells were subjected to a seminested reverse transcription-PCR protocol in which a digoxigenin-labeled primer was used. Detection of the reporter molecule was based on the 2-hydroxy-3-naphtoic acid-2′-phenylanilide phosphate–Fast Red detection system and binding of anti-digoxigenin–alkaline phosphatase conjugate. Fluorescence in permeabilized cells increased after a heat shock compared to fluorescence in non-heat-shocked cells, and the increase corresponded to an increase in the level of the dnaK transcript.
PMCID: PMC101414  PMID: 10788341
21.  Identification of a Salt-Induced Primary Transporter for Glycine Betaine in the Methanogen Methanosarcina mazei Gö1 
The salt adaptation of the methanogenic archaeon Methanosarcina mazei Gö1 was studied at the physiological and molecular levels. The freshwater organism M. mazei Gö1 was able to adapt to salt concentrations up to 1 M, and the addition of the compatible solute glycine betaine to the growth medium facilitated adaptation to higher salt concentrations. Transport studies with cell suspensions revealed a salt-induced glycine betaine uptake activity in M. mazei Gö1, and inhibitor studies argue for a primary transport device. Analysis of the genome of M. mazei Gö1 identified a homolog of known primary glycine betaine transporters. This gene cluster was designated Ota (osmoprotectant transporter A). Its sequence and gene organization are very similar to those of the glycine betaine transporter OpuA of Bacillus subtilis. Northern blot analysis of otaC revealed a salt-dependent transcription of this gene. Ota is the first identified salt-induced transporter for compatible solutes in Archaea.
PMCID: PMC127567  PMID: 11976081
22.  Natural Transformation of an Engineered Helicobacter pylori Strain Deficient in Type II Restriction Endonucleases 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(13):3407-3416.
Restriction-modification (RM) systems are important for bacteria to limit foreign DNA invasion. The naturally competent bacterium Helicobacter pylori has highly diverse strain-specific type II systems. To evaluate the roles of strain-specific restriction in H. pylori natural transformation, a markerless type II restriction endonuclease-deficient (REd) mutant was constructed. We deleted the genes encoding all four active type II restriction endonucleases in H. pylori strain 26695 using sacB-mediated counterselection. Transformation by donor DNA with exogenous cassettes methylated by Escherichia coli was substantially (1.7 and 2.0 log10 for cat and aphA, respectively) increased in the REd strain. There also was significantly increased transformation of the REd strain by donor DNA from other H. pylori strains, to an extent corresponding to their shared type II R-M system strain specificity with 26695. Comparison of the REd and wild-type strains indicates that restriction did not affect the length of DNA fragment integration during natural transformation. There also were no differentials in cell growth or susceptibility to DNA damage. In total, the data indicate that the type II REd mutant has enhanced competence with no loss of growth or repair facility compared to the wild type, facilitating H. pylori mutant construction and other genetic engineering.
PMCID: PMC3434758  PMID: 22522893
23.  Development of a Method for Markerless Genetic Exchange in Enterococcus faecalis and Its Use in Construction of a srtA Mutant 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2005;71(10):5837-5849.
Enterococcus faecalis is a gram-positive commensal bacterium of the gastrointestinal tract and an important opportunistic pathogen. Despite the increasing clinical significance of the enterococci, genetic analysis of these organisms has thus far been limited in scope due to the lack of advanced genetic tools. To broaden the repertoire of genetic tools available for manipulation of E.faecalis, we investigated the use of phosphoribosyl transferases as elements of a counterselection strategy. We report here the development of a counterselectable markerless genetic exchange system based on the upp-encoded uracil phosphoribosyl transferase of E. faecalis. Whereas wild-type E. faecalis is sensitive to growth inhibition by the toxic base analog 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), a mutant bearing an in-frame deletion of upp is resistant to 5-FU. When a cloned version of upp was ectopically introduced into the deletion mutant, sensitivity to 5-FU growth inhibition was restored, thereby providing the basis for a two-step integration and excision strategy for the transfer of mutant alleles to the enterococcal chromosome by recombination. This method was validated by the construction of a ΔsrtA mutant of E. faecalis and by the exchange of the surface protein Asc10, encoded on the pheromone-responsive conjugative plasmid pCF10, with a previously isolated mutant allele. Analysis of the ΔsrtA mutant indicated that SrtA anchors Asc10 to the enterococcal cell wall, facilitating the pheromone-induced aggregation of E. faecalis cells required for high-frequency conjugative plasmid transfer in liquid matings. The system of markerless exchange reported here will facilitate detailed genetic analysis of these important pathogens.
PMCID: PMC1265997  PMID: 16204495
24.  Markerless Gene Deletion System for Sphingomonads 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(10):3774-3777.
Here, we suggest that natural streptomycin resistance of many sphingomonads resides within rpsL. We constructed a dominant, streptomycin-sensitive rpsL allele and demonstrated its use as a counterselection marker in several sphingomonads. An rpsL-based markerless gene deletion system was developed and validated by deleting four genes in Sphingomonas sp. strain Fr1.
PMCID: PMC3346355  PMID: 22427496
25.  Lysine-2,3-Aminomutase and β-Lysine Acetyltransferase Genes of Methanogenic Archaea Are Salt Induced and Are Essential for the Biosynthesis of Nɛ-Acetyl-β-Lysine and Growth at High Salinity 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2003;69(10):6047-6055.
The compatible solute Nɛ-acetyl-β-lysine is unique to methanogenic archaea and is produced under salt stress only. However, the molecular basis for the salt-dependent regulation of Nɛ-acetyl-β-lysine formation is unknown. Genes potentially encoding lysine-2,3-aminomutase (ablA) and β-lysine acetyltransferase (ablB), which are assumed to catalyze Nɛ-acetyl-β-lysine formation from α-lysine, were identified on the chromosomes of the methanogenic archaea Methanosarcina mazei Gö1, Methanosarcina acetivorans, Methanosarcina barkeri, Methanococcus jannaschii, and Methanococcus maripaludis. The order of the two genes was identical in the five organisms, and the deduced proteins were very similar, indicating a high degree of conservation of structure and function. Northern blot analysis revealed that the two genes are organized in an operon (termed the abl operon) in M. mazei Gö1. Expression of the abl operon was strictly salt dependent. The abl operon was deleted in the genetically tractable M. maripaludis. Δabl mutants of M. maripaludis no longer produced Nɛ-acetyl-β-lysine and were incapable of growth at high salt concentrations, indicating that the abl operon is essential for Nɛ-acetyl-β-lysine synthesis. These experiments revealed the first genes involved in the biosynthesis of compatible solutes in methanogens.
PMCID: PMC201229  PMID: 14532061

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