The Red recombinase system of bacteriophage lambda has been used to inactivate chromosomal genes in E. coli K-12 through homologous recombination using linear PCR products. The aim of this study was to induce mutations in the genome of some temperate Shiga toxin encoding bacteriophages. When phage genes are in the prophage state, they behave like chromosomal genes. This enables marker genes, such as antibiotic resistance genes, to be incorporated into the stx gene. Once the phages' lytic cycle is activated, recombinant Shiga toxin converting phages are produced. These phages can transfer the marker genes to the bacteria that they infect and convert. As the Red system's effectiveness decreased when used for our purposes, we had to introduce significant variations to the original method. These modifications included: confirming the stability of the target stx gene increasing the number of cells to be transformed and using a three-step PCR method to produce the amplimer containing the antibiotic resistance gene.
Seven phages carrying two different antibiotic resistance genes were derived from phages that are directly involved in the pathogenesis of Shiga toxin-producing strains, using this modified protocol.
This approach facilitates exploration of the transduction processes and is a valuable tool for studying phage-mediated horizontal gene transfer.
Advances in DNA sequencing technology have facilitated the determination of hundreds of complete genome sequences both for bacteria and their bacteriophages. Some of these bacteria have well-developed and facile genetic systems for constructing mutants to determine gene function, and recombineering is a particularly effective tool. However, generally applicable methods for constructing defined mutants of bacteriophages are poorly developed, in part because of the inability to use selectable markers such as drug resistance genes during viral lytic growth. Here we describe a method for simple and effective directed mutagenesis of bacteriophage genomes using Bacteriophage Recombineering of Electroporated DNA (BRED), in which a highly efficient recombineering system is utilized directly on electroporated phage DNA; no selection is required and mutants can be readily detected by PCR. We describe the use of BRED to construct unmarked gene deletions, in-frame internal deletions, base substitutions, precise gene replacements, and the addition of gene tags.
A bacteriophage lambda cloning vector was designed to facilitate the isolation of genes from procaryotic organisms by complementation of Escherichia coli mutants. This vector, lambda SE4, was constructed by attaching a very-low-copy-number replication system (from the plasmid NR1) and a spectinomycin resistance gene to the left arm of lambda 1059 (Karn et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 77:5172-5176, 1980). This phasmid cloning vector is capable of growing lytically as a phage in a nonimmune host or lysogenically as a phasmid in an immune host. This phasmid utilizes the Spi- selection for insertions of DNA into the vector and has the ability to accept 2- to 19-kilobase Sau3A1, BamHI, BglII, BclI, or XhoII fragments; recombinants lysogenize immune hosts as single-copy-number selectable plasmids at 100% frequency. An E. coli library was constructed by using the initial vector lambda SE4, and clones of a number of representative genes were identified. A typical clone, lambda ant+, was shown to be readily mutagenized by a mini-Tn10 transposon. A general method for transferring cloned DNA segments onto bacteriophage lambda was developed. The method involves the use of in vivo recombination with a selection and was used to construct two derivatives of lambda SE4. Possible uses of these vectors and of the method for transferring cloned DNA onto phage lambda are discussed.
Recombineering is an efficient method of in vivo genetic engineering applicable to chromosomal as well as episomal replicons in E. coli. This method circumvents the need for most standard in vitro cloning techniques. Recombineering allows construction of DNA molecules with precise junctions without constraints being imposed by restriction enzyme site location. Bacteriophage homologous recombination proteins catalyze these recombineering reactions using double- and single-strand linear DNA substrates, so-called targeting constructs, introduced by electroporation. Gene knockouts, deletions and point mutations are readily made, gene tags can be inserted, and regions of bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) or the E. coli genome can be subcloned by gene retrieval using recombineering. Most of these constructs can be made within about a week's time.
Bacteriophages are central components in the development of molecular tools for microbial genetics. Mycobacteriophages have proven a rich resource for tuberculosis genetics, and the recent development of a mycobacterial recombineering system based on phage Che9c-encoded proteins offers new approaches to mycobacterial mutagenesis. Expression of the phage exonuclease and recombinase substantially enhances recombination frequencies in both fast-and slow-growing mycobacteria, facilitating construction of both gene knockout and point mutants; it also provides a simple and efficient method for constructing mycobacteriophage mutants. Exploitation of host-specific phages thus provides a general strategy for recombineering and mutagenesis in genetically naive systems.
The exo–xis region, present in genomes of lambdoid bacteriophages, contains highly conserved genes of largely unknown functions. In this report, using bacteriophage λ and Shiga toxin-converting bacteriophage ϕ24Β, we demonstrate that the presence of this region on a multicopy plasmid results in impaired lysogenization of Escherichia coli and delayed, while more effective, induction of prophages following stimulation by various agents (mitomycin C, hydrogen peroxide, UV irradiation). Spontaneous induction of λ and ϕ24Β prophages was also more efficient in bacteria carrying additional copies of the corresponding exo–xis region on plasmids. No significant effects of an increased copy number of genes located between exo and xis on both efficiency of adsorption on the host cells and lytic development inside the host cell of these bacteriophages were found. We conclude that genes from the exo–xis region of lambdoid bacteriophages participate in the regulation of lysogenization and prophage maintenance.
Shiga toxin-converting bacteriophages; Lambdoid phages; Lysogenization; Prophage induction; Exo–xis region
Manipulation of genomic inserts cloned into the bacteriophage P1 vector is hindered by the large size of the inserts. We have used co-transformation mediated recombination between the yeast-bacteria shuttle vector, pClasper, and various P1 clones to transfer the entire insert from the P1 into pClasper. This results in the insert being stably maintained in yeast, facilitating mutagenesis by homologous recombination. The recombinant plasmid can subsequently be transferred to and stably maintained in bacteria for efficient plasmid preparation. This method can also be applied to inserts from P1 artificial chromosome or bacterial artificial chromosome vectors.
The integrase of the temperate bacteriophage mv4 catalyzes site-specific recombination between the phage attP site and the host attB site during Lactobacillus delbrueckii lysogenization. The mv4 prophage is excised during the induction of lytic growth. Excisive site-specific recombination between the attR and attL sites is also catalyzed by the phage-encoded recombinase, but the directionality of the recombination is determined by a second phage-encoded protein, the recombination directionality factor (RDF). We have identified and functionally characterized the RDF involved in site-specific excision of the prophage genome. The mv4 RDF, mv4Xis, is encoded by the second gene of the early lytic operon. It is a basic protein of 56 amino acids. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays demonstrated that mv4Xis binds specifically to the attP and attR sites via two DNA-binding sites, introducing a bend into the DNA. In vitro experiments and in vivo recombination assays with plasmids in Escherichia coli and Lactobacillus plantarum demonstrated that mv4Xis is absolutely required for inter- or intramolecular recombination between the attR and attL sites. In contrast to the well-known phage site-specific recombination systems, the integrative recombination between the attP and attB sites seems not to be inhibited by the presence of mv4Xis.
Bacteriophages (or phages) dominate the biosphere both numerically and in terms of genetic diversity. In particular, genomic comparisons suggest a remarkable level of horizontal gene transfer among temperate phages, favoring a high evolution rate. Molecular mechanisms of this pervasive mosaicism are mostly unknown. One hypothesis is that phage encoded recombinases are key players in these horizontal transfers, thanks to their high efficiency and low fidelity. Here, we associate two complementary in vivo assays and a bioinformatics analysis to address the role of phage encoded recombinases in genomic mosaicism. The first assay allowed determining the genetic determinants of mosaic formation between lambdoid phages and Escherichia coli prophage remnants. In the second assay, recombination was monitored between sequences on phage λ, and allowed to compare the performance of three different Rad52-like recombinases on the same substrate. We also addressed the importance of homologous recombination in phage evolution by a genomic comparison of 84 E. coli virulent and temperate phages or prophages. We demonstrate that mosaics are mainly generated by homology-driven mechanisms that tolerate high substrate divergence. We show that phage encoded Rad52-like recombinases act independently of RecA, and that they are relatively more efficient when the exchanged fragments are divergent. We also show that accessory phage genes orf and rap contribute to mosaicism. A bioinformatics analysis strengthens our experimental results by showing that homologous recombination left traces in temperate phage genomes at the borders of recently exchanged fragments. We found no evidence of exchanges between virulent and temperate phages of E. coli. Altogether, our results demonstrate that Rad52-like recombinases promote gene shuffling among temperate phages, accelerating their evolution. This mechanism may prove to be more general, as other mobile genetic elements such as ICE encode Rad52-like functions, and play an important role in bacterial evolution itself.
Temperate bacteriophages (or phages) are bacterial viruses that, unlike virulent phages, have the ability to enter a prophage dormant state upon infection, in which they stably replicate with the bacterial genome. A majority of bacterial genomes contain multiple active or defective prophages, and numerous bacterial phenotypes are modified by these prophages, such as increased virulence. These mobile genetic elements are subject to high levels of genetic exchanges, through which new genes are constantly imported into bacterial genomes. Phage-encoded homologous recombination enzymes, or recombinases, are potentially key actors in phage genome shuffling. In this work, we show that gene acquisition in temperate phages is strongly dependent on the presence of sequence homology, but is highly tolerant to divergence. We report that gene exchanges are mainly catalyzed by recombinases found on temperate phages, and show that four different Rad52-like recombinases have a relaxed fidelity in vivo, compared to RecA. This high capacity of exchange speeds up evolution of phages, and indirectly also the evolution of bacteria.
Interest in phage therapy has grown over the past decade due to the rapid emergence of antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens. However, the use of bacteriophages for therapeutic purposes has raised concerns over the potential for immune response, rapid toxin release by the lytic action of phages, and difficulty in dose determination in clinical situations. A phage that kills the target cell but is incapable of host cell lysis would alleviate these concerns without compromising efficacy.
We developed a recombinant lysis-deficient Staphylococcus aureus phage P954, in which the endolysin gene was rendered nonfunctional by insertional inactivation. P954, a temperate phage, was lysogenized in S. aureus strain RN4220. The native endolysin gene on the prophage was replaced with an endolysin gene disrupted by the chloramphenicol acetyl transferase (cat) gene through homologous recombination using a plasmid construct. Lysogens carrying the recombinant phage were detected by growth in presence of chloramphenicol. Induction of the recombinant prophage did not result in host cell lysis, and the phage progeny were released by cell lysis with glass beads. The recombinant phage retained the endolysin-deficient genotype and formed plaques only when endolysin was supplemented. The host range of the recombinant phage was the same as that of the parent phage. To test the in vivo efficacy of the recombinant endolysin-deficient phage, immunocompromised mice were challenged with pathogenic S. aureus at a dose that results in 80% mortality (LD80). Treatment with the endolysin-deficient phage rescued mice from the fatal S. aureus infection.
A recombinant endolysin-deficient staphylococcal phage has been developed that is lethal to methicillin-resistant S. aureus without causing bacterial cell lysis. The phage was able to multiply in lytic mode utilizing a heterologous endolysin expressed from a plasmid in the propagation host. The recombinant phage effectively rescued mice from fatal S. aureus infection. To our knowledge this is the first report of a lysis-deficient staphylococcal phage.
Genetic manipulation in enterohemorrhagic
E. coli O157:H7 is currently restricted to recombineering, a method that utilizes the recombination system of bacteriophage lambda, to introduce gene replacements and base changes
inter alia into the genome. Bacteriophage 933W is a prophage in
E. coli O157:H7 strain EDL933, which encodes the genes (
stx2AB) for the production of Shiga toxin which is the basis for the potentially fatal Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome in infected humans. We replaced the
stx2AB genes with a kanamycin cassette using recombineering. After induction of the prophage by ultra-violet light, we found that bacteriophage lysates were capable of transducing to wildtype, point mutations in the lactose, arabinose and maltose genes. The lysates could also transduce tetracycline resistant cassettes. Bacteriophage 933W is also efficient at transducing markers in
E. coli K-12. Co-transduction experiments indicated that the maximal amount of transferred DNA was likely the size of the bacteriophage genome, 61 kB. All tested transductants, in both
E. coli K-12 and O157:H7, were kanamycin-sensitive indicating that the transducing particles contained host DNA.
Comparative genomics demonstrated that the chromosomes from bacteria and their viruses (bacteriophages) are coevolving. This process is most evident for bacterial pathogens where the majority contain prophages or phage remnants integrated into the bacterial DNA. Many prophages from bacterial pathogens encode virulence factors. Two situations can be distinguished: Vibrio cholerae, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, Corynebacterium diphtheriae, and Clostridium botulinum depend on a specific prophage-encoded toxin for causing a specific disease, whereas Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium harbor a multitude of prophages and each phage-encoded virulence or fitness factor makes an incremental contribution to the fitness of the lysogen. These prophages behave like “swarms” of related prophages. Prophage diversification seems to be fueled by the frequent transfer of phage material by recombination with superinfecting phages, resident prophages, or occasional acquisition of other mobile DNA elements or bacterial chromosomal genes. Prophages also contribute to the diversification of the bacterial genome architecture. In many cases, they actually represent a large fraction of the strain-specific DNA sequences. In addition, they can serve as anchoring points for genome inversions. The current review presents the available genomics and biological data on prophages from bacterial pathogens in an evolutionary framework.
We have recently developed a gene disruption system for the hyperthermophilic archaeon Thermococcus kodakaraensis by utilizing a pyrF-deficient mutant, KU25, as a host strain and the pyrF gene as a selectable marker. To achieve multiple genetic manipulations for more advanced functional analyses of genes in vivo, it is necessary to establish multiple host-marker systems or to develop a system in which repeated utilization of one marker gene is possible. In this study, we first constructed a new host strain, KU216 (ΔpyrF), by specific and almost complete deletion of endogenous pyrF through homologous recombination. In this refined host, there is no need to consider unknown mutations caused by random mutagenesis, and unlike in the previous host, KU25, there is little, if any, possibility that unintended recombination between the marker gene and the chromosomal allele occurs. Furthermore, a new host-marker combination of a trpE deletant, KW128 (ΔpyrF ΔtrpE::pyrF), and the trpE gene was developed. This system made it possible to isolate transformants through a more simple selection procedure as well as to deduce the transformation efficiency, overcoming practical disadvantages of the first system. The effects of the transformation conditions were also investigated using this system. Finally, we have also established a system in which repeated utilization of the counterselectable pyrF marker is possible through its excision by pop-out recombination. Both endogenous and exogenous sequences could be applied as tandem repeats flanking the marker pyrF for pop-out recombination. A double deletion mutant, KUW1 (ΔpyrF ΔtrpE), constructed with the pop-out strategy, was demonstrated to be a useful host for the dual markers pyrF and trpE. Likewise, a triple deletion mutant, KUWH1 (ΔpyrF ΔtrpE ΔhisD), could also be constructed. The transformation systems developed here now provide the means for extensive genetic studies in this hyperthermophilic archaeon.
Bacterial chromosomes often carry integrated genetic elements (e.g., plasmids, transposons, prophages, and islands) whose precise function and contribution to the evolutionary fitness of the host bacterium are unknown. The CTXϕ prophage, which encodes cholera toxin in Vibrio cholerae1, is known to be adjacent to a chromosomally integrated element of unknown function termed the toxin-linked cryptic (TLC)2. Here we report characterization of a TLC-related element that corresponds to the genome of a satellite filamentous phage (TLC-Knϕ1) which uses the morphogenesis genes of another filamentous phage (fs2ϕ) to form infectious TLC-Knϕ1 phage particles. The TLC-Knϕ1 phage genome carries a sequence similar to the dif recombination sequence which functions in chromosome dimer resolution using XerC and XerD recombinases3. The dif sequence is also exploited by lysogenic filamentous phages (e.g., CTXϕ) for chromosomal integration of their genomes. Bacterial cells defective in the dimer resolution often show an aberrant filamentous cell morphology3,4. We found that acquisition and chromosomal integration of the TLC-Knϕ1 genome restored a perfect dif site and normal morphology to V. cholerae wild type and mutant strains that displayed dif- filamentation phenotypes. Furthermore, lysogeny of a dif- nontoxigenic V. cholerae with TLC-Knϕ1 promoted its subsequent toxigenic conversion through integration of CTXϕ into the restored dif site. These results reveal a remarkable level of cooperative interactions between multiple filamentous phages in the emergence of the bacterial pathogen that causes cholera.
The functional analysis of genes frequently requires manipulation of large genomic regions embedded in yeast artificial chromosomes (YACs). We have designed a yeast-bacteria shuttle vector, pClasper, that can be used to clone specific regions of interest from YACs by homologous recombination. The important feature of pClasper is the presence of the mini-F factor replicon. This leads to a significant increase in the size of the plasmid inserts that can be maintained in bacteria after cloning by homologous recombination in yeast. The utility of this vector lies in its ability to maintain large fragments in bacteria and yeast, allowing for mutagenesis in yeast and simplified preparation of plasmid DNA in bacteria. Using PCR-generated recombinogenic fragments in pClasper we cloned a 27 kb region from a YAC containing the Hoxc cluster and a 130 kb region containing the entire Hoxb cluster. No rearrangements were seen when the recombinants in the shuttle vector were transferred to bacteria. We outline the potential uses of pClasper for functional studies of large genomic regions by transgenic and other analyses.
The activity of bacteriophages and phage-related mobile elements is a major source for genome rearrangements and genetic instability of their bacterial hosts. The genome of the industrial amino acid producer Corynebacterium glutamicum ATCC 13032 contains three prophages (CGP1, CGP2, and CGP3) of so far unknown functionality. Several phage genes are regularly expressed, and the large prophage CGP3 (∼190 kbp) has recently been shown to be induced under certain stress conditions. Here, we present the construction of MB001, a prophage-free variant of C. glutamicum ATCC 13032 with a 6% reduced genome. This strain does not show any unfavorable properties during extensive phenotypic characterization under various standard and stress conditions. As expected, we observed improved growth and fitness of MB001 under SOS-response-inducing conditions that trigger CGP3 induction in the wild-type strain. Further studies revealed that MB001 has a significantly increased transformation efficiency and produced about 30% more of the heterologous model protein enhanced yellow fluorescent protein (eYFP), presumably as a consequence of an increased plasmid copy number. These effects were attributed to the loss of the restriction-modification system (cg1996-cg1998) located within CGP3. The deletion of the prophages without any negative effect results in a novel platform strain for metabolic engineering and represents a useful step toward the construction of a C. glutamicum chassis genome of strain ATCC 13032 for biotechnological applications and synthetic biology.
Specialized transduction has proven to be useful for generating deletion mutants in most mycobacteria, including virulent Mycobacterium tuberculosis. We have improved this system by developing (i) a single-step strategy for the construction of allelic exchange substrates (AES), (ii) a temperature-sensitive shuttle phasmid with a greater cloning capacity than phAE87, and (iii) bacteriophage-mediated transient expression of site-specific recombinase to precisely excise antibiotic markers. The methods ameliorate rate-limiting steps in strain construction in these difficult-to-manipulate bacteria. The new methods for strain construction were demonstrated to generalize to all classes of genes and chromosomal loci by generating more than 100 targeted single- or multiple-deletion substitutions. These improved methods pave the way for the generation of a complete ordered library of M. tuberculosis null strains, where each strain is deleted for a single defined open reading frame in M. tuberculosis.
This work reports major advances in the methods of genetics applicable to all mycobacteria, including but not limited to virulent M. tuberculosis, which would facilitate comparative genomics to identify drug targets, genetic validation of proposed pathways, and development of an effective vaccine. This study presents all the new methods developed and the improvements to existing methods in an integrated way. The work presented in this study could increase the pace of mycobacterial genetics significantly and will immediately be of wide use. These new methods are transformative and allow for the undertaking of construction of what has been one of the most fruitful resources in model systems: a comprehensive, ordered library set of the strains, each of which is deleted for a single defined open reading frame.
Bacteriophages represent a majority of all life forms, and the vast, dynamic population with early origins is reflected in their enormous genetic diversity. A large number of bacteriophage genomes have been sequenced. They are replete with novel genes without known relatives. We know little about their functions, which genes are required for lytic growth, and how they are expressed. Furthermore, the diversity is such that even genes with required functions – such as virion proteins and repressors – cannot always be recognized. Here we describe a functional genomic dissection of mycobacteriophage Giles, in which the virion proteins are identified, genes required for lytic growth are determined, the repressor is identified, and the transcription patterns determined. We find that although all of the predicted phage genes are expressed either in lysogeny or in lytic growth, 45% of the predicted genes are non-essential for lytic growth. We also describe genes required for DNA replication, show that recombination is required for lytic growth, and that Giles encodes a novel repressor. RNAseq analysis reveals abundant expression of a small non-coding RNA in a lysogen and in late lytic growth, although it is non-essential for lytic growth and does not alter lysogeny.
Bacteriophage; Transcription; RNAseq
Bioinformatic analysis of the genome sequence of Neisseria gonorrhoeae revealed the presence of nine probable prophage islands. The distribution, conservation and function of many of these sequences, and their ability to produce bacteriophage particles are unknown.
Our analysis of the genomic sequence of FA1090 identified five genomic regions (NgoΦ1 – 5) that are related to dsDNA lysogenic phage. The genetic content of the dsDNA prophage sequences were examined in detail and found to contain blocks of genes encoding for proteins homologous to proteins responsible for phage DNA replication, structural proteins and proteins responsible for phage assembly. The DNA sequences from NgoΦ1, NgoΦ2 and NgoΦ3 contain some significant regions of identity. A unique region of NgoΦ2 showed very high similarity with the Pseudomonas aeruginosa generalized transducing phage F116. Comparative analysis at the nucleotide and protein levels suggests that the sequences of NgoΦ1 and NgoΦ2 encode functionally active phages, while NgoΦ3, NgoΦ4 and NgoΦ5 encode incomplete genomes. Expression of the NgoΦ1 and NgoΦ2 repressors in Escherichia coli inhibit the growth of E. coli and the propagation of phage λ. The NgoΦ2 repressor was able to inhibit transcription of N. gonorrhoeae genes and Haemophilus influenzae HP1 phage promoters. The holin gene of NgoΦ1 (identical to that encoded by NgoΦ2), when expressed in E. coli, could serve as substitute for the phage λ s gene. We were able to detect the presence of the DNA derived from NgoΦ1 in the cultures of N. gonorrhoeae. Electron microscopy analysis of culture supernatants revealed the presence of multiple forms of bacteriophage particles.
These data suggest that the genes similar to dsDNA lysogenic phage present in the gonococcus are generally conserved in this pathogen and that they are able to regulate the expression of other neisserial genes. Since phage particles were only present in culture supernatants after induction with mitomycin C, it indicates that the gonococcus also regulates the expression of bacteriophage genes.
Targeted mutagenesis of the herpesvirus genomes has been facilitated by the use of bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) technology. Such modified genomes have potential uses in understanding viral pathogenesis, gene identification and characterization, and the development of new viral vectors and vaccines. We have previously described the construction of a herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) BAC and the use of an allele replacement strategy to construct HSV-2 recombinants. While the BAC mutagenesis procedure is a powerful method to generate HSV-2 recombinants, particularly in the absence of selective marker in eukaryotic culture, the mutagenesis procedure is still difficult and cumbersome.
Here we describe the incorporation of a phage lambda recombination system into an allele replacement vector. This strategy enables any DNA fragment containing the phage attL recombination sites to be efficiently inserted into the attR sites of the allele replacement vector using phage lambda clonase. We also describe how the incorporation of EGFP into the allele replacement vector can facilitate the selection of the desired cross-over recombinant BACs when the allele replacement reaction is a viral gene deletion. Finally, we incorporate the lambda phage recombination sites directly into an HSV-2 BAC vector for direct recombination of gene cassettes using the phage lambda clonase-driven recombination reaction.
Together, these improvements to the techniques of HSV BAC mutagenesis will facilitate the construction of recombinant herpes simplex viruses and viral vectors.
The Red system of bacteriophage λ is responsible for the genetic rearrangements that contribute to its rapid evolution and has been successfully harnessed as a research tool for genome manipulation. The key recombination component is Redβ, a ring-shaped protein that facilitates annealing of complementary DNA strands. Redβ shares functional similarities with the human Rad52 single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) annealing protein although their evolutionary relatedness is not well established. Alignment of Rad52 and Redβ sequences shows an overall low level of homology, with 15% identity in the N-terminal core domains as well as important similarities with the Rad52 homolog Sak from phage ul36. Key conserved residues were chosen for mutagenesis and their impact on oligomer formation, ssDNA binding and annealing was probed. Two conserved regions were identified as sites important for binding ssDNA; a surface basic cluster and an intersubunit hydrophobic patch, consistent with findings for Rad52. Surprisingly, mutation of Redβ residues in the basic cluster that in Rad52 are involved in ssDNA binding disrupted both oligomer formation and ssDNA binding. Mutations in the equivalent of the intersubunit hydrophobic patch in Rad52 did not affect Redβ oligomerization but did impair DNA binding and annealing. We also identified a single amino acid substitution which had little effect on oligomerization and DNA binding but which inhibited DNA annealing, indicating that these two functions of Redβ can be separated. Taken together, the results provide fresh insights into the structural basis for Redβ function and the important role of quaternary structure.
To establish a lysogenic lifestyle, the temperate bacteriophage φC31 integrates its genome into the chromosome of its Streptomyces host, by site-specific recombination between attP (the attachment site in the phage DNA) and attB (the chromosomal attachment site). This reaction is promoted by a phage-encoded serine recombinase Int. To return to the lytic lifestyle, the prophage excises its DNA by a similar Int-mediated reaction between the recombinant sites flanking the prophage, attL and attR. φC31 Int has been developed into a popular experimental tool for integration of transgenic DNA into the genomes of eukaryotic organisms. However, until now it has not been possible to use Int to promote the reverse reaction, excision. In many other phages, the presence of a recombination directionality factor (RDF) protein biases the phage-encoded integrase towards prophage excision, whereas absence of the RDF favours integration; but the φC31 RDF had proved elusive. In this issue of Molecular Microbiology, Khaleel et al. (2011) report the identification and purification of the φC31 RDF, and show that it both promotes excision and inhibits integration by direct protein-protein interactions with Int itself.
The construction of mutant fungal strains is often limited by the poor efficiency of homologous recombination in these organisms. Higher recombination efficiencies can be obtained by increasing the length of homologous DNA flanking the transformation marker, although this is a tedious process when standard molecular biology techniques are used for the construction of gene replacement cassettes. Here, we present a two-step technology which takes advantage of an Escherichia coli strain expressing the phage λ Red(gam, bet, exo) functions and involves (i) the construction in this strain of a recombinant cosmid by in vivo recombination between a cosmid carrying a genomic region of interest and a PCR-generated transformation marker flanked by 50 bp regions of homology with the target DNA and (ii) genetic exchange in the fungus itself between the chromosomal locus and the circular or linearized recombinant cosmid. This strategy enables the rapid establishment of mutant strains carrying gene knock-outs with efficiencies >50%. It should also be appropriate for the construction of fungal strains with gene fusions or promoter replacements.
Recombineering techniques have been developed to modify bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) via bacterial homologous recombination systems, simplifying the molecular manipulations of large DNA constructs. However, precise modifications of a DNA fragment larger than 2-3 kb by recombineering remain a difficult task, due to technical limitations in PCR amplification and purification of large DNA fragments. Here, we describe a new recombineering strategy for the replacement of large DNA fragments using the commonly utilized phage/Red recombination host system. This approach involved the introduction of rare restriction enzyme sites and positive selection markers into the ends of a large DNA fragment, followed by its release from the donor BAC construct and integration into an acceptor BAC. We have successfully employed this method to precisely swap a number of large DNA fragments ranging from 6 to 40 kb between two BAC constructs. Our results demonstrated that this new strategy was highly effective in the manipulations of large genomic DNA fragments and therefore should advance the conventional BAC recombineering technology to the next level.
Bacterial artificial chromosome; recombineering; homologous recombination; chimeric BACs; large DNA fragments
Salmonella typhimurium bacteriophage P22 transduced plasmids having P22 sequences inserted in the vector pBR322 with high frequency. Analysis of the structure of the transducing particle DNA and the transduced plasmids indicates that this plasmid transduction involves two homologous recombination events. In the donor cell, a single recombination between the phage and the homologous sequences on the plasmid inserted the plasmid into the phage chromosome, which was then packaged by headfuls into P22 particles. The transducing particle DNA contained duplications of the region of homology flanking the integrated plasmid vector sequences and lacked some phage genes. When these defective phage genomes containing the inserted plasmid infected a recipient cell, recombination between the duplicated regions regenerated the plasmid. A useful consequence of this sequence of events was that genetic markers in the region of homology were readily transferred from phage to plasmid. Plasmid transduction required homology between the phage and the plasmid, but did not depend on the presence of any specific P22 sequence in the plasmid. When the infecting P22 carried a DNA sequence homologous to the ampicillin resistance region of pBR322, the vector plasmid having no P22 insert could be transduced. P22-mediated transduction is a useful way to transfer chimeric plasmids, since most S. typhimurium strains are poorly transformed by plasmid DNA.