The native lactococcal plasmid, pKR223, from Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis biovar diacetylactis KR2 encodes two distinct bacteriophage-resistant mechanisms, the LlaKR2I restriction and modification (R/M) system and the abortive infection (Abi) mechanism, AbiR, that impedes bacteriophage DNA replication. This study completed the characterization of AbiR, revealing that it is the first Abi system to be encoded by three genes, abiRa, abiRb, and abiRc, arranged in an operon and that it requires the methylase gene from the LlaKR2I R/M system. An analysis of deletion and insertion clones demonstrated that the AbiR operon was toxic in L. lactis without the presence of the LlaKR2I methylase, which is required to protect L. lactis from AbiR toxicity. The novelty of the AbiR system resides in its original gene organization and the unusual protective role of the LlaKR2I methylase. Interestingly, the AbiR genetic determinants are flanked by two IS982 elements generating a likely transposable AbiR composite. This observation not only substantiated the novel function of the LlaKR2I methylase in the AbiR system but also illustrated the evolution of the LlaKR2I methylase toward a new and separate cellular function. This unique structure of both the LlaKR2I R/M system and the AbiR system may have contributed to the evolution of the LlaKR2I methylase toward a novel role comparable to that of the cell cycle-regulated methylases that include Dam and CcrM methylases. This new role for the LlaKR2I methylase offers a unique snapshot into the evolution of the cell cycle-regulated methylases from an existing R/M system.
Although a variety of methods and expensive kits are available, molecular cloning can be a time-consuming and frustrating process.
Here we report a highly simplified, reliable, and efficient PCR-based cloning technique to insert any DNA fragment into a plasmid vector or into a gene (cDNA) in a vector at any desired position. With this method, the vector and insert are PCR amplified separately, with only 18 cycles, using a high fidelity DNA polymerase. The amplified insert has the ends with ~16-base overlapping with the ends of the amplified vector. After DpnI digestion of the mixture of the amplified vector and insert to eliminate the DNA templates used in PCR reactions, the mixture is directly transformed into competent E. coli cells to obtain the desired clones. This technique has many advantages over other cloning methods. First, it does not need gel purification of the PCR product or linearized vector. Second, there is no need of any cloning kit or specialized enzyme for cloning. Furthermore, with reduced number of PCR cycles, it also decreases the chance of random mutations. In addition, this method is highly effective and reproducible. Finally, since this cloning method is also sequence independent, we demonstrated that it can be used for chimera construction, insertion, and multiple mutations spanning a stretch of DNA up to 120 bp.
Our FastCloning technique provides a very simple, effective, reliable, and versatile tool for molecular cloning, chimera construction, insertion of any DNA sequences of interest and also for multiple mutations in a short stretch of a cDNA.
Homologous recombination in yeast can be exploited to reliably generate libraries of >107 transformants from a pool of PCR products and a linearized plasmid vector. Homology in the PCR insertion products drives shuffling of these genes in vivo by yeast homologous recombination. Two scFvs that share 89.8% homology were shuffled in vivo by homologous recombination, and chimeric genes were generated regardless of whether or not one of the scFv PCR products lacked 5′ homology to the cut vector and the second scFv PCR product lacked 3′ homology to the cut vector, or both PCR products had both 5′ and 3′ homology to the cut vector. A majority of the chimeras had single crossovers; however, double and triple crossovers were isolated. Crossover points were evenly distributed in the hybrids created and homology of as little as two nucleotides was able to produce a chimeric clone. The numbers of clones isolated with a given number of crossovers was approximated well by a Poisson distribution. Transformation efficiencies for the chimeric libraries were of the order of 104–105 transformants per microgram of insert, which is the same order of magnitude as when a single PCR product is inserted alone into the display vector by homologous recombination. This method eliminates ligation and Escherichia coli transformation steps of previous methods for generating yeast-displayed libraries, requires fewer PCR cycles than in vitro DNA shuffling and, unlike site-specific recombination methods, allows for recombination anywhere that homology exists between the genes to be recombined. This simple technique should prove useful for protein engineering in general and antibody engineering, specifically in yeast.
We report here modifications of human β-globin PAC clones by homologous recombination in Escherichia coli DH10B, utilising a plasmid temperature sensitive for replication, the recA gene and a wild-type copy of the rpsL gene which allows for an efficient selection for plasmid loss in this host. High frequencies of recombination are observed even with very small lengths of homology and the method has general utility for introducing insertions, deletions and point mutations. No rearrangements were detected with the exception of one highly repetitive genomic sequence when either the E.coli RecA- or the lambdoid phage encoded RecT and RecE-dependent recombination systems were used.
Most bacteria can only be transformed with circular plasmids, so robust DNA integration methods for these rely upon selection of single-crossover clones followed by counter-selection of double-crossover clones. To overcome the limited availability of heterologous counter-selection markers, here we explore novel DNA integration strategies that do not employ them, and instead exploit (i) activation or inactivation of genes leading to a selectable phenotype, and (ii) asymmetrical regions of homology to control the order of recombination events. We focus here on the industrial biofuel-producing bacterium Clostridium acetobutylicum, which previously lacked robust integration tools, but the approach we have developed is broadly applicable. Large sequences can be delivered in a series of steps, as we demonstrate by inserting the chromosome of phage lambda (minus a region apparently unstable in Escherichia coli in our cloning context) into the chromosome of C. acetobutylicum in three steps. This work should open the way to reliable integration of DNA including large synthetic constructs in diverse microorganisms.
The determinants for two bacteriophage resistance mechanisms, AbiE and AbiF, are separated by approximately 3,300 nucleotides on the lactococcal plasmid pNP40 (P. Garvey, G.F. Fitzgerald, and C. Hill, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 61:4321-4328, 1995). DNA sequence analysis of the intervening region led to the identification of two open reading frames (ORFs) which are transcribed in the opposite direction to the Abi determinants. One of these ORFs encodes a recA homolog (designated recALP). This is the first report of a recA-like determinant located to a plasmid. The second ORF (orfU) shares homology with the umuC gene of the SOS response. Analysis of a number of lactococcal strains confirmed the presence of recALP-like sequences in at least two other lactococcal strains. The proximity of the recA and umuC homologs suggested a possible role in the phase resistance encoded by the Abi determinants. However, no evidence was obtained to demonstrate a function for either ORF in the expression of either AbiE or AbiF. Nor could the recALP gene restore resistance to mitomycin in a recA-deficient lactococcal strain, VEL1122. Interestingly, it was shown that the chromosomally encoded recA is necessary for complete expression of the AbiF phenotype, confirming a role for RecA in this abortive infection system.
Recombineering is a powerful method for DNA manipulation. It has advantages over restriction endonuclease-based methods and is usually rapid. Typically recombineering uses long PCR primers (~65 bases), each of which contains a small region of target homology (~45 bases). We have developed a simple, albeit somewhat less rapid, strategy to create recombineering substrates that can use primers of ≤35 bases for all steps. The regions of homology can be several hundred base pairs in length to (1) increase the chance of obtaining the desired clone and/or (2) allow coliphage-based recombineering in some non-Escherichia coli bacteria. The method uses cloning techniques to construct a template for the generation of the recombineering substrate. Because the template is made from cloned DNA segments, the segments (including those for the homology regions) can be readily changed. During construction of the template plasmid, potential background transformants arising from the vector without insert are significantly reduced by cloning each segment with two restriction endonucleases that produce non-compatible ends. We have used this method to change the bla gene of pACYC177 to aadA, to add the MCS-lacZα region from pBBR1MCS to IncQ plasmid vectors, and to make an oriTIncP-aacC1 cassette and add it to a plasmid.
λ red; recET; genetic engineering; DNA cloning; homologous recombination
The construction of plasmid vectors for transgene expression in the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, presents major technical hurdles. Traditional molecular cloning by restriction and ligation often yields deletions and re-arrangements when assembling low-complexity (A + T)-rich parasite DNA. Furthermore, the use of large 5′- and 3′- untranslated regions of DNA sequence (UTRs) to drive transgene transcription limits the number of expression cassettes that can be incorporated into plasmid vectors.
To address these challenges, two high fidelity cloning strategies, namely yeast homologous recombination and the Gibson assembly method, were evaluated for constructing P. falciparum vectors. Additionally, some general rules for reliably using the viral 2A-like peptide to express multiple proteins from a single expression cassette while preserving their proper trafficking to various subcellular compartments were assessed.
Yeast homologous recombination and Gibson assembly were found to be effective strategies for successfully constructing P. falciparum plasmid vectors. Using these cloning methods, a validated family of expression vectors that provide a flexible starting point for user-specific applications was created. These vectors are also compatible with traditional cloning by restriction and ligation, and contain useful combinations of commonly used features for enhancing plasmid segregation and site-specific integration in P. falciparum. Additionally, application of a 2A-like peptide for the synthesis of multiple proteins from a single expression cassette, and some rules for combinatorially directing proteins to discrete subcellular compartments were established.
A set of freely available, sequence-verified and functionally validated parts that offer greater flexibility for constructing P. falciparum vectors having expanded expression capacity is provided.
The native lactococcal plasmid pKR223 encodes two distinct phage resistance mechanisms, a restriction and modification (R/M) system designated LlaKR2I and an abortive infection mechanism (Abi) which affects prolate-headed-phage proliferation. The nucleotide sequence of a 16,174-bp segment of pKR223 encompassing both the R/M and Abi determinants has been determined, and sequence analysis has validated the novelty of the Abi system, which has now been designated AbiR. Analysis of deletion and insertion clones demonstrated that AbiR was encoded by two genetic loci, separated by the LlaKR2I R/M genes. Mechanistic studies on the AbiR phenotype indicated that it was heat sensitive and that it impeded phage DNA replication. These data indicated that AbiR is a novel multicomponent, heat-sensitive, “early”-functioning Abi system and is the first lactococcal Abi system described which is encoded by two separated genetic loci.
Here we describe a straightforward, efficient, and reliable way to clone an insert of choice into a plasmid of choice without restriction endonucleases or T4 DNA ligase. Chimeric primers containing plasmid sequence at the 5′ ends and insert sequence at the 3′ ends were used to PCR-amplify insertion sequences of various sizes, namely the genes for GFP (gfp), β-D-glucuronidase (gusA), and β-galactosidase (lacZ), as well as the entire luxABCDE operon. These inserts were employed as mega-primers in a second PCR with a circular plasmid template. The original plasmid templates were then destroyed in restriction digests with DpnI, and the overlap extension PCR products were used to transform competent Escherichia coli cells. Phusion DNA polymerase was used for the amplification and fusion reactions, so both reactions were easy to monitor and optimize.
overlap extension PCR cloning; recombinant vector; Phusion; restriction enzyme ligation independent
We describe here a new lactococcal abortive phage infection system, designated AbiP. AbiP is effective against some lactococcal phages of one prevalent group, 936, but not against phages from the other two groups (c6A and P335). It was identified in the Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris strain IL420, on the native plasmid pIL2614. AbiP is encoded by a single gene, expressed in an operon with a second gene. In this work, abiP is shown to affect both the replication and transcription of phage DNA. In AbiP+ cells, phage DNA replication is arrested approximately 10 min after infection. Levels of middle and late phage transcripts are lower in AbiP+ than in AbiP− cells, probably due to the smaller amount of phage DNA. By contrast, early phage transcripts are more abundant in AbiP+ than in AbiP− cells, suggesting that the switch-off, which occurs 15 min after infection in AbiP− cells, is prevented in AbiP+ cells.
A recombinant plasmid carrying the recA gene of Aeromonas caviae was isolated from an A. caviae genomic library by complementation of an Escherichia coli recA mutant. The plasmid restored resistance to both UV irradiation and to the DNA-damaging agent methyl methanesulfonate in the E. coli recA mutant strain. The cloned gene also restored recombination proficiency as measured by the formation of lac+ recombinants from duplicated mutant lacZ genes and by the ability to propagate a strain of phage lambda (red gam) that requires host recombination functions for growth. The approximate location of the recA gene on the cloned DNA fragment was determined by constructing deletions and by the insertion of Tn5, both of which abolished the ability of the recombinant plasmid to complement the E. coli recA strains. A. caviae recA::Tn5 was introduced into A. caviae by P1 transduction. The resulting A. caviae recA mutant strain was considerably more sensitive to UV light than was its parent. Southern hybridization analysis indicated that the A. caviae recA gene has diverged from the recA genes from a variety of gram-negative bacteria, including A. hydrophila and A. sobria. Maxicell labeling experiments revealed that the RecA protein of A. caviae had an Mr of about 39,400.
The nucleotide sequence of the C-terminal region of the recE gene of the Rac prophage of Escherichia coli K-12 reveals the presence of a partially overlapping reading frame we call recT. Deletion mutations show that recT is required for the RecE pathway of conjugational recombination. By cloning recT with a plasmid vector compatible with pBR322, we showed by cis-trans tests that the portion of the recE gene encoding ExoVIII DNA nuclease activity is also required for RecE pathway conjugational recombination. The recT gene can replace the redB gene of lambda for recA-independent plasmid recombination. A Tn10 insertion mutation previously thought to be in recE is located in recT and is renamed recT101::Tn10. Discrepancies between the molecular mass estimates of wild-type ExoVIII protein determined from mobility in sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and calculated from the predicted amino acid sequence are discussed. The hypothesis that wild-type ExoVIII protein results from fusion of RecE and RecT proteins is disproved genetically, thus supporting a previous hypothesis that the discrepancies are due to abnormal protein mobility in SDS-PAGE. A computer-performed scan of the bacteriophage nucleotide sequence data base of GenBank revealed substantial similarity between most of recE and a 2.5-kb portion of the b2 region of lambda. This suggests interesting speculations concerning the evolutionary relationship of lambda and Rac prophages.
Traditional gene replacement procedures are still time-consuming. They usually necessitate cloning of the gene to be mutated, insertional inactivation of the gene with an antibiotic resistance cassette and exchange of the plasmid-borne mutant allele with the bacterial chromosome. PCR and recombinational technologies can be exploited to substantially accelerate virtually all steps involved in the gene replacement process.
We describe a method for rapid generation of unmarked P. aeruginosa deletion mutants. Three partially overlapping DNA fragments are amplified and then spliced together in vitro by overlap extension PCR. The resulting DNA fragment is cloned in vitro into the Gateway vector pDONR221 and then recombined into the Gateway-compatible gene replacement vector pEX18ApGW. The plasmid-borne deletions are next transferred to the P. aeruginosa chromosome by homologous recombination. Unmarked deletion mutants are finally obtained by Flp-mediated excision of the antibiotic resistance marker. The method was applied to deletion of 25 P. aeruginosa genes encoding transcriptional regulators of the GntR family.
While maintaining the key features of traditional gene replacement procedures, for example, suicide delivery vectors, antibiotic resistance selection and sucrose counterselection, the method described here is considerably faster due to streamlining of some of the key steps involved in the process, especially plasmid-borne mutant allele construction and its transfer into the target host. With appropriate modifications, the method should be applicable to other bacteria.
AbiG is an abortive infection (Abi) mechanism encoded by the conjugative plasmid pCI750 originally isolated from Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris UC653. Insensitivity conferred by this Abi manifested itself as complete resistance to phi 712 (936 phage species) with only partial resistance to phi c2 (c2 species). The mechanism did not inhibit phage DNA replication. The smallest subclone of pCI750 which expressed the Abi phenotype contained a 3.5-kb insert which encoded two potential open reading frames. abiGi (750 bp) and abiGii (1,194 bp) were separated by 2 bp and appeared to share a single promoter upstream of abiGi. These open reading frames showed no significant homology to sequences of either the DNA or protein databases; however, they did exhibit the typical low G+C content (29 and 27%, respectively) characteristic of lactococcal abi genes. In fact, the G+C content of a 7.0-kb fragment incorporating the abiG locus was 30%, which may suggest horizontal gene transfer from a species of low G+C content. In this context, it is notable that remnants of IS elements were observed throughout this 7.0-kb region.
We have developed a protocol to assemble in one step and one tube at least nine separate DNA fragments together into an acceptor vector, with 90% of recombinant clones obtained containing the desired construct. This protocol is based on the use of type IIs restriction enzymes and is performed by simply subjecting a mix of 10 undigested input plasmids (nine insert plasmids and the acceptor vector) to a restriction-ligation and transforming the resulting mix in competent cells. The efficiency of this protocol allows generating libraries of recombinant genes by combining in one reaction several fragment sets prepared from different parental templates. As an example, we have applied this strategy for shuffling of trypsinogen from three parental templates (bovine cationic trypsinogen, bovine anionic trypsinogen and human cationic trypsinogen) each divided in 9 separate modules. We show that one round of shuffling using the 27 trypsinogen entry plasmids can easily produce the 19,683 different possible combinations in one single restriction-ligation and that expression screening of a subset of the library allows identification of variants that can lead to higher expression levels of trypsin activity. This protocol, that we call ‘Golden Gate shuffling’, is robust, simple and efficient, can be performed with templates that have no homology, and can be combined with other shuffling protocols in order to introduce any variation in any part of a given gene.
An Escherichia coli F19 recA, nitrate reductase-deficient mutant was constructed by transposon mutagenesis and shown to be resistant to metronidazole. This mutant was a most suitable host for the isolation of Clostridium acetobutylicum genes on recombinant plasmids, which activated metronidazole and rendered the E. coli F19 strain sensitive to metronidazole. Twenty-five E. coli F19 clones containing different recombinant plasmids were isolated and classified into five groups on the basis of their sensitivity to metronidazole. The clones were tested for nitrate reductase, pyruvate-ferredoxin oxidoreductase, and hydrogenase activities. DNA hybridization and restriction endonuclease mapping revealed that four of the C. acetobutylicum insert DNA fragments on recombinant plasmids were linked in an 11.1-kb chromosomal fragment. DNA sequencing and amino acid homology studies indicated that this DNA fragment contained a flavodoxin gene which encoded a protein of 160 amino acids that activated metronidazole and made the E. coli F19 mutant very sensitive to metronidazole. The flavodoxin and hydrogenase genes which are involved in electron transfer systems were linked on the 11.1-kb DNA fragment from C. acetobutylicum.
Synthetic oligonucleotides, DNA ligase and DNA polymerase were used to construct double-stranded DNA fragments homologous to the first 25, 27 or 30 b.p. of the origin of replication of bacteriophage phi X174 (nucleotides 4299-4328 of the phi X174 DNA sequence). The double-stranded DNA fragments were cloned into the unique SmaI or HindIII restriction sites in the kanamycin-resistance gene of pACYC177 (AmpR, KmR). Recombinant plasmids were picked up by colony hybridization. DNA sequencing showed that not only recombinant plasmids with the expected insert were formed, but also recombinant plasmids with a shorter insert. Recombinant plasmids with an insert homologous to the first 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 or all 30 b.p. of the phi X174 origin region were thus obtained. Supercoiled plasmids containing a sequence homologous to the first 27, 28 or 30 b.p. of the phi X174 origin region are nicked by the phi X174 gene A protein. However, the other supercoiled plasmids are not nicked by the phi X174 gene A protein. These results show that the first 27 b.p. of the phi X174 origin region are sufficient as well as required for the initiation step in phi X174 RF DNA replication, i.e. the cleavage by gene A protein.
Molecular cloning of functional immunoglobulin genes from single plasma cells is one of the most promising technologies for the rapid development of monoclonal antibody drugs. However, the proper insertion of PCR-amplified immunoglobulin genes into expression vectors remains an obstacle to the high-throughput production of recombinant monoclonal antibodies.
We developed a single-step cloning method, target-selective homologous recombination (TS-HR), in which PCR-amplified immunoglobulin variable genes were selectively inserted into vectors, even in the presence of nonspecifically amplified DNA. TS-HR utilizes Red/ET-mediated homologous recombination with a target-selective vector (TS-vector) with unique homology arms on its termini. Using TS-HR, immunoglobulin variable genes were cloned directly into expression vectors by co-transforming unpurified PCR products and the TS-vector into E. coli. Furthermore, the high cloning specificity of TS-HR allowed plasmids to be extracted from pools of transformed bacteria without screening single colonies for correct clones. We present a one-week protocol for the production of recombinant mouse monoclonal antibodies from large numbers of single plasma cells.
The time requirements and limitations of traditional cloning procedures for the production of recombinant immunoglobulins have been significantly reduced with the development of the TS-HR cloning technique.
Continued improvements of adenoviral vectors require the investigation of novel genome configurations. Since adenovirus can be generated directly by transfecting packaging cell lines with viral genomes isolated from plasmid DNA, it is possible to separate genome construction from virus production. In this way failure to generate a virus is not associated with an inability to generate the desired genome. We have developed a novel lambda-based system that allows rapid modification of the viral genome by double homologous recombination in Escherichia coli. The recombination reaction and newly generated genome may reside in a recombination-deficient bacterial host for enhanced plasmid stability. Furthermore, the process is independent of any restriction endonucleases. The strategy relies on four main steps: (i) homologous recombination between an adenovirus cosmid and a donor plasmid (the donor plasmid carries the desired modification[s] and flanking regions of homology to direct its recombination into the viral genome); (ii) in vivo packaging of the recombinant adenoviral cosmids during a productive lambda infection; (iii) transducing a recombination-deficient E. coli lambda lysogen with the generated lysate (the lysogen inhibits the helper phage used to package the recombinant andenoviral cosmid from productively infecting and destroying the host bacteria); (iv) effectively selecting for the desired double-recombinant cosmid. Approximately 10,000 double-recombinant cosmids are recovered per reaction with essentially all of them being the correct double-recombinant molecule. This system was used to generate quickly and efficiently adenoviral genomes deficient in the E1/E3 and E1/E3/E4 regions. The basis of this technology allows any region of the viral genome to be readily modified for investigation of novel configurations.
Real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) is becoming a widely used method to quantify cytokines from cells, tissues, or tissue biopsies. The method allows for the direct detection of PCR product during the exponential phase of the reaction, combining amplification and detection in a single step. Using TaqMan chemistry (Applied Biosystems, Foster City, CA) and the ABI Prism 7700 Sequence Detection System (Applied Biosystems), we validated a large panel of murine and human cytokines, as well as other factors playing a role in the immune system, such as chemokines and apoptotic markers. Although the method allows fast, sensitive, and accurate quantification, different control assays are necessary for the method to be reliable. By construction of complementary DNA (cDNA) plasmid clones, standard curves are generated that allow direct quantification of every unknown sample. Furthermore, the choice of a reliable housekeeping gene is very important. Finally, co-amplification of contaminating genomic DNA is avoided by designing sets of primers located in different exons or on intron–exon junctions. In conclusion, the real-time RT-PCR technique is very accurate and sensitive, allows high throughput, and can be performed on very small samples. The development of real-time RT-PCR has resulted in an exponential increase in its use over the last couple of years, and the method has undoubtedly become the standard for quantifying cytokine patterns, clarifying many functional properties of immune cells and their associated diseases.
; real-time RT-PCR; TaqMan; cytokine
An efficient method for moving mutations in cloned Escherichia coli DNA from plasmid vectors to the bacterial chromosome was developed. Cells carrying plasmids that had been mutated by the insertion of a resistance gene were infected with lambda phage containing homologous cloned DNA, and resulting lysates were used for transduction. Chromosomal transductants (recombinants) were distinguished from plasmid transductants by their ampicillin-sensitive phenotype, or plasmid transductants were avoided by using a recBC sbcB E. coli strain as recipient. Chromosomal transductants were usually haploid when obtained in a nonlysogen because of selection against the lambda vector and partially diploid when obtained in a lysogen. Pure stocks of phage that carry the resistance marker and transduce it at high frequency were obtained from transductant bacteria. The lambda-based method for moving mutant alleles into the bacterial chromosome described here should be useful for diverse analyses of gene function and genome structure.
We created plasmids for use in insertion-duplication mutagenesis (IDM) of Neisseria gonorrhoeae. This mutagenesis method has the advantage that it requires only a single cloning step prior to transformation into gonococci. Chromosomal DNA cloned into the plasmid directs insertion into the chromosome at the site of homology by a single-crossover (Campbell-type) recombination event. Two of the vectors contain an erythromycin resistance gene, ermC, with a strong promoter and in an orientation such that transcription will proceed into the cloned insert. Thus, these plasmids can be used to create insertions that are effectively nonpolar on the transcription of downstream genes. In addition to the improved ermC, the vector contains two copies of the neisserial DNA uptake sequence to facilitate high-frequency DNA uptake during transformation. Using various chromosomal DNA insert sizes, we have determined that even small inserts can target insertion mutation by this method and that the insertions are stably maintained in the gonococcal chromosome. We have used IDM to create knockouts in two genes in the gonococcal genetic island (GGI) and to clone additional regions of the GGI by a chromosome-walking procedure. Phenotypic characterization of traG and traH mutants suggests a role for the encoded proteins in DNA secretion by a novel type IV secretion system.
We describe a simple method for the cloning of PCR products without the need for post-amplification enzymatic treatment. Tailed PCR primer sets are used to create complementary staggered overhangs on both insert and vector by a post-PCR denaturation-hybridisation reaction. The single-stranded overhangs are designed to allow directional cloning in a ligase-free manner. This 'enzyme-free cloning' procedure is highly efficient, and is not constrained by the need for the presence of suitable restriction enzyme sites within the plasmid vector. The avoidance of post-amplification enzymatic procedures makes the technique rapid and reliable, avoiding the need for multiple sub-cloning steps.
We inserted foreign DNA segments into plasmids which replicate by a rolling-circle mechanism in Escherichia coli and observed the appearance of high-molecular-weight plasmid multimers (HMW). This phenomenon, which occurs more frequently with GC-rich segments, depends on the mode of replication of the plasmid and on host homologous recombination functions. We found that (i) HMW are formed upon insertion of a foreign DNA segment into a single-stranded DNA plasmid, whereas the same DNA insert has no such effect on a theta replicon, and (ii) HMW are not present in a recA mutant strain but are found in a lexA (Ind-) mutant. Enzymatic studies allowed us to define the HMW structure as linear double-stranded tandem head-to-tail plasmid repeats. Use of heteroplasmid strains showed that HMW production by one plasmid does not affect another resident plasmid, indicating that no host functions are phenotypically inactivated. This distinguishes our system from the HMW observed with various replicons in the absence of RecBCD enzyme activity. We propose that the role of the foreign insert is to protect the DNA from RecBCD exonuclease attack.