This report describes several key aspects of a novel form of RecA-independent homologous recombination. We found that synthetic single stranded DNA oligonucleotides (oligos) introduced into bacteria by transformation can site-specifically recombine with bacterial chromosomes in the absence of any additional phage encoded functions. Oligo recombination was tested in four genera of Gram-negative bacteria and in all cases evidence for recombination was apparent. The experiments presented here were designed with an eye towards learning to use oligo recombination in order to bootstrap identification and development of phage encoded recombination systems for recombineering in a wide range of bacteria. The results show that oligo concentration and sequence have the greatest influence on recombination frequency, while oligo length was less important. Apart from the utility of oligo recombination, these findings also provide insights regarding the details of recombination mediated by phage-encoded functions. Establishing that oligos can recombine with bacterial genomes provides a link to similar observations of oligo recombination in archaea and eukaryotes suggesting the possibility that this process is evolutionary conserved.
Recombineering; Pseudomonas; Homologous Recombination; Oligonucleotide; Gene Conversion
The use of live bacteria to induce an immune response to itself or to a carried vaccine component is an attractive vaccine strategy. Advantages of live bacterial vaccines include their mimicry of a natural infection, intrinsic adjuvant properties and their possibility to be administered orally. Derivatives of pathogenic and non-pathogenic food related bacteria are currently being evaluated as live vaccines. However, pathogenic bacteria demands for attenuation to weaken its virulence. The use of bacteria as vaccine delivery vehicles implies construction of recombinant strains that contain the gene cassette encoding the antigen. With the increased knowledge of mucosal immunity and the availability of genetic tools for heterologous gene expression the concept of live vaccine vehicles gains renewed interest. However, administration of live bacterial vaccines poses some risks. In addition, vaccination using recombinant bacteria results in the release of live recombinant organisms into nature. This places these vaccines in the debate on application of genetically modified organisms. In this review we give an overview of live bacterial vaccines on the market and describe the development of new live vaccines with a focus on attenuated bacteria and food-related lactic acid bacteria. Furthermore, we outline the safety concerns and identify the hazards associated with live bacterial vaccines and try to give some suggestions of what to consider during their development.
Illegitimate recombination between a prophage and adjacent bacterial DNA is the first step in the formation of specialized transducing phage. Such recombination is rare, but it is greatly enhanced by UV irradiation. We studied the mechanism of UV-induced illegitimate recombination by examining the effect of rec mutations on the frequency of lambda bio transducing phage and found that an Escherichia coli recJ mutation reduces it by 3- to 10-fold. In addition, the recombination hotspot, which accounts for approximately 60% of lambda bio transducing phages in wild-type bacteria, was not detected in the recJ mutant. Introduction of a RecJ overexpression plasmid into the recJ mutant recovered the recombination at the hotspot. These results indicate that the RecJ protein preferentially stimulates illegitimate recombination at the hotspot. Both the hotspot and the non- hotspot sites have short regions of homology, but only the hotspot sites contain common direct-repeat sequences. We propose a model based on the 5'-3' exonuclease activity of RecJ to explain the involvement of this protein in illegitimate recombination at the hotspot.
Wolbachia and Cardinium are endosymbiotic bacteria infecting many arthropods and manipulating host reproduction. Although these bacteria are maternally transmitted, incongruencies between phylogenies of host and parasite suggest an additional role for occasional horizontal transmission. Consistent with this view is the strong evidence for recombination in Wolbachia, although it is less clear to what extent recombination drives diversification within single host species and genera. Furthermore, little is known concerning the population structures of other insect endosymbionts which co-infect with Wolbachia, such as Cardinium. Here, we explore Wolbachia and Cardinium strain diversity within nine spider mite species (Tetranychidae) from 38 populations, and quantify the contribution of recombination compared to point mutation in generating Wolbachia diversity.
We found a high level of genetic diversity for Wolbachia, with 36 unique strains detected (64 investigated mite individuals). Sequence data from four Wolbachia genes suggest that new alleles are 7.5 to 11 times more likely to be generated by recombination than point mutation. Consistent with previous reports on more diverse host samples, our data did not reveal evidence for co-evolution of Wolbachia with its host. Cardinium was less frequently found in the mites, but also showed a high level of diversity, with eight unique strains detected in 15 individuals on the basis of only two genes. A lack of congruence among host and Cardinium phylogenies was observed.
We found a high rate of recombination for Wolbachia strains obtained from host species of the spider mite family Tetranychidae, comparable to rates found for horizontally transmitted bacteria. This suggests frequent horizontal transmission of Wolbachia and/or frequent horizontal transfer of single genes. Our findings strengthens earlier reports of recombination for Wolbachia, and shows that high recombination rates are also present on strains from a restrictive host range. Cardinium was found co-infecting several spider mite species, and phylogenetic comparisons suggest also horizontal transmission of Cardinium among hosts.
Pseudomonas putida EEZ15(pWW0-EB62) is a phosphinothricin (PPT)-resistant strain with a recombinant TOL plasmid which allows the strain to grow on p-ethylbenzoate. The survival of this strain in sterile agricultural soils depends on the physicochemical properties of the soil. The recombinant pWW0-EB62 plasmid and its catabolic functions were stable for periods of up to 1 month in bacteria introduced in unamended soils and only conferred selective advantage to the host bacteria without the plasmid or with the natural pWW0 plasmid when the soils were amended with low amounts of p-ethylbenzoate. The addition to soils of aromatics that are cometabolized by P. putida EEZ15(pWW0-EB62) had a detrimental effect on the survival of the bacteria, whereas low amounts of aromatics that are not metabolized by this bacterium had no effect on their survival. Survival of P. putida EEZ15(pWW0-EB62) was better at 4 and 25 degrees C than at 37 degrees C. The host bacterium carrying the recombinant pWW0-EB62 plasmid was established in unsterile soils.
Indigenous bacteria from poplar tree (Populus canadensis var. eugenei ‘Imperial Carolina’) and southern California shrub rhizospheres, as well as two tree-colonizing Rhizobium strains (ATCC 10320 and ATCC 35645), were engineered to express constitutively and stably toluene o-monooxygenase (TOM) from Burkholderia cepacia G4 by integrating the tom locus into the chromosome. The poplar and Rhizobium recombinant bacteria degraded trichloroethylene at a rate of 0.8 to 2.1 nmol/min/mg of protein and were competitive against the unengineered hosts in wheat and barley rhizospheres for 1 month (colonization occurred at a level of 1.0 × 105 to 23 × 105 CFU/cm of root). In addition, six of these recombinants colonized poplar roots stably and competitively with populations as large as 79% ± 12% of all rhizosphere bacteria after 28 days (0.2 × 105 to 31 × 105 CFU/cm of root). Furthermore, five of the most competitive poplar recombinants (e.g., Pb3-1 and Pb5-1, which were identified as Pseudomonas sp. strain PsK recombinants) retained the ability to express TOM for 29 days as 100% ± 0% of the recombinants detected in the poplar rhizosphere expressed TOM constitutively.
Strains of Bacillus subtilis 168 lysogenic for bacteriophage phi105 transfer with deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) isolated from bacteriophage SPO2 at a higher efficiency than non-lysogenic strains. This enhancement of transfection was not the result of recombination between bacteriophages SPO2 and phi105. Superinfection marker rescue increased transfection with DNA from bacteriophage phi105 occurred simultaneously with the addition of the transfecting DNA. Again, this enhancement of transfection was not the result of recombination but rather a protection of the transfecting DNA by the superinfecting bacteriophage. The ability of the superinfecting bacteriophage to protect the transfecting DNA from inactivation was maximal when the bacteria were just becoming competent. Bacteriophage phi1 cannot replicate after the transfection of competent bacteria lacking a functional DNA replication system, whereas bacteriophage phi1 was able to replicate after infection of competent bacteria grown under comparable conditions. These observations support the hypothesis that GAPase and an inducible repair system play an important role in the development of competence.
Single-strand gaps (SSGs) and double-strand breaks (DSBs) are the major initiation sites for recombination. In bacteria, the SSGs are repaired by RecFOR, while the DSBs are processed by RecBCD in gram-negative bacteria and AddAB in gram-positive bacteria. Unexpectedly, instead of recBCD genes, the addAB genes were found in members of the α-proteobacteria group (gram negative). Taking Rhizobium etli as a model, the role of recF and addAB genes in homologous recombination and repair of damaged DNA was evaluated. Inactivation of either recF or addA provoked strong sensitivity to UV radiation and mitomycin C, while an additive effect was observed in the recF-addA mutant. The DSBs generated by nalidixic acid caused low viability only in the addA mutant. The recombination frequency of large and small plasmids was reduced in the recF mutant (24- and 36-fold, respectively), whereas a slight decrease (threefold) in the addA mutant was observed. Moreover, an additive effect (47- and 90-fold, respectively) was observed in the double mutant, but it was not as dramatic as that in a recA mutant. Interestingly, the frequency of deletion and Campbell-type recombination was slightly affected in either single or double mutants. These results suggest that another pathway exists that allows plasmid and Campbell-type recombination in the absence of recF and addA genes.
Recombinant proteins are widely used today in many industries, including the biopharmaceutical industry, and can be expressed in bacteria, yeasts, mammalian and insect cell cultures, or in transgenic plants and animals. In addition, transgenic algae have also been shown to support recombinant protein expression, both from the nuclear and chloroplast genomes. However, to date, there are only a few reports on recombinant proteins expressed in the algal chloroplast. It is unclear if this is due to few attempts or to limitations of the system that preclude expression of many proteins. Thus, we sought to assess the versatility of transgenic algae as a recombinant protein production platform. To do this, we tested whether the algal chloroplast could support the expression of a diverse set of current or potential human therapeutic proteins. Of the seven proteins chosen, greater than 50% expressed at levels sufficient for commercial production. Three expressed at 2% to 3% of total soluble protein, while a forth protein accumulated to similar levels when translationally fused to a well-expressed serum amyloid protein. All of the algal chloroplast-expressed proteins are soluble and showed biological activity comparable to that of the same proteins expressed using traditional production platforms. Thus, the success rate, expression levels, and bioactivty achieved demonstrate the utility of C. reinhardtii as a robust platform for human therapeutic protein production.
Natural competence is the genetically encoded ability of some bacteria to take up DNA from the environment. Although most of the incoming DNA is degraded, occasionally intact homologous fragments can recombine with the chromosome, displacing one resident strand. This potential to use DNA as a source of both nutrients and genetic novelty has important implications for the ecology and evolution of competent bacteria. However, it is not known how frequently competence changes during evolution, or whether non-competent strains can persist for long periods of time. We have previously studied competence in H. influenzae and found that both the amount of DNA taken up and the amount recombined varies extensively between different strains. In addition, several strains are unable to become competent, suggesting that competence has been lost at least once. To investigate how many times competence has increased or decreased during the divergence of these strains, we inferred the evolutionary relationships of strains using the largest datasets currently available. However, despite the use of three datasets and multiple inference methods, few nodes were resolved with high support, perhaps due to extensive mixing by recombination. Tracing the evolution of competence in those clades that were well supported identified changes in DNA uptake and/or transformation in most strains. The recency of these events suggests that competence has changed frequently during evolution but the poor support of basal relationships precludes the determination of whether non-competent strains can persist for long periods of time. In some strains, changes in transformation have occurred that cannot be due to changes in DNA uptake, suggesting that selection can act on transformation independent of DNA uptake.
Squalene synthase (SQS) is a bifunctional enzyme that catalyzes the condensation of two molecules of farnesyl diphosphate (FPP) to give presqualene diphosphate (PSPP) and the subsequent rearrangement of PSPP to squalene. These reactions constitute the first pathway-specific steps in hopane biosynthesis in Bacteria and sterol biosynthesis in Eukarya. The genes encoding SQS were isolated from the hopane-producing bacteria Thermosynechococcus elongatus BP-1, Bradyrhizobium japonicum, and Zymomonas mobilis and cloned into an Escherichia coli expression system. The expressed proteins with a His6 tag were found exclusively in inclusion bodies when no additives were used in the buffer. After extensive optimization, soluble recombinant T. elongatus BP-1 SQS was obtained when cells were disrupted and purified in buffers containing glycerol. The recombinant B. japonicum and Z. mobilis SQSs could not be solubilized under any of the expression and purification conditions used. Purified T. elongatus His6-SQS gave a single band at 42 kDa by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and molecular ion at m/z 41886 by electrospray mass spectrometry. Incubation with FPP and NADPH gave squalene as the sole product. Incubation of the enzyme with [14C]FPP in the absence of NADPH gave PSPP. The enzyme requires Mg2+ for activity, has an optimum pH of 7.6, and is strongly stimulated by detergent. Under optimal conditions, the Km of FPP is 0.97 ± 0.10 μM and the kcat is 1.74 ± 0.04 s−1. Zaragozic acid A, a potent inhibitor of mammalian, fungal, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae SQSs, also inhibited recombinant T. elongatus BP-1 SQS, with a 50% inhibitory concentration of 95.5 ± 13.6 nM.
In bacteria with circular chromosomes, homologous recombination events can lead to the formation of chromosome dimers. In Escherichia coli, chromosome dimers are resolved by the addition of a crossover by two tyrosine recombinases, XerC and XerD, at a specific site on the chromosome, dif. Recombination depends on a direct contact between XerD and a cell division protein, FtsK, which functions as a hexameric double stranded DNA translocase. Here, we have investigated how the structure and composition of DNA interferes with Xer recombination activation by FtsK. XerC and XerD each cleave a specific strand on dif, the top and bottom strand, respectively. We found that the integrity and nature of eight bottom-strand nucleotides and three top-strand nucleotides immediately adjacent to the XerD-binding site of dif are crucial for recombination. These nucleotides are probably not implicated in FtsK translocation since FtsK could translocate on single stranded DNA in both the 5′–3′ and 3′–5′ orientation along a few nucleotides. We propose that they are required to stabilize FtsK in the vicinity of dif for recombination to occur because the FtsK–XerD interaction is too transient or too weak in itself to allow for XerD catalysis.
Intermolecular recombination in mammalian cells was studied by coinfecting African green monkey cells in culture with two shuttle vector plasmids, each carrying an incomplete but overlapping portion of the gene for neomycin resistance. The region of homology between the two plasmids was about 0.6 kilobases. Recombination between the homology regions could reconstruct the neomycin resistance gene, which was monitored by analysis of progeny plasmids in bacteria. The individual plasmids carried additional markers which, in combination with restriction analysis, allowed the determination of the frequency of formation of the heterodimeric plasmid which would be formed in a conservative recombination reaction between the homologous sequences. Reconstruction of the neomycin resistance gene was readily observed, but only 1 to 2% of the neomycin resistance plasmids had the structure of the conservative heterodimer. Treatment of the plasmids which enhanced the frequency of the neomycin resistance gene reconstruction reaction did not significantly increase the relative frequency of conservative product plasmids. The results support nonconservative models for recombination of these sequences.
We describe a novel cloning method termed SLiCE (Seamless Ligation Cloning Extract) that utilizes easy to generate bacterial cell extracts to assemble multiple DNA fragments into recombinant DNA molecules in a single in vitro recombination reaction. SLiCE overcomes the sequence limitations of traditional cloning methods, facilitates seamless cloning by recombining short end homologies (≥15 bp) with or without flanking heterologous sequences and provides an effective strategy for directional subcloning of DNA fragments from Bacteria Artificial Chromosomes (BACs) or other sources. SLiCE is highly cost effective as a number of standard laboratory bacterial strains can serve as sources for SLiCE extract. In addition, the cloning efficiencies and capabilities of these strains can be greatly improved by simple genetic modifications. As an example, we modified the DH10B Escherichia coli strain to express an optimized λ prophage Red recombination system. This strain, termed PPY, facilitates SLiCE with very high efficiencies and demonstrates the versatility of the method.
Antimicrobial cationic peptides have been discovered in many different organisms and often possess a broad range of activity. In this study, we investigated the mechanisms of actions of melittin and two synthetic peptides, CEME (a cecropin-melittin hybrid) and CEMA, against gram-negative bacteria. CEMA was produced by recombinant DNA procedures and is an analog of CEME with a modified C terminus resulting in two additional positive charges. All three peptides showed good antimicrobial activity against four different gram-negative bacteria, but only CEMA was able to somewhat augment the activity of some conventional antibiotics in synergy studies. Studies using the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterobacter cloacae showed that the peptides all possessed the ability to permeabilize bacterial outer membranes to the hydrophobic fluorophor 1-N-phenylnaphthylamine and the protein lysozyme, with CEMA being the most active. CEMA also had the strongest relative binding affinity for bacterial endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide). These data collectively indicated that these peptides all cross the outer membrane by the self-promoted uptake pathway and that CEMA is the peptide most effective at accessing this pathway.
Proteus mirabilis bacteria are a common cause of hospital-acquired urinary tract infection. In a previous study, we described a P. mirabilis fimbrial protein, UCA, that adhered to human uroepithelial cells. Genes sufficient for expression of UCA adherence were cloned into Escherichia coli K-12. E. coli bacteria that contained the uca recombinant plasmid adhered to human uroepithelial cells. In addition, the ucaA gene encoding the structural component of UCA pili was subcloned, and its DNA sequence was determined. Amino acid sequence homology (30 to 50%) was found between mature UcaA protein and pilins from pathogenic bacteria representing several genera, including E. coli F17, G, and type 1C pilins, Haemophilus M43 pilin, and a Bordetella pilin.
The identity of the histidine specific transfer RNA (tRNAHis) is largely determined by a unique guanosine residue at position −1. In eukaryotes and archaea, the tRNAHis guanylyltransferase (Thg1) catalyzes 3'-5' addition of G to the 5'-terminus of tRNAHis. Here, we show that Thg1 also occurs in bacteria. We demonstrate in vitro Thg1 activity for recombinant enzymes from the two bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis and Myxococcus xanthus and provide a closer investigation of several archaeal Thg1. The reaction mechanism of prokaryotic Thg1 differs from eukaryotic enzymes, as it does not require ATP. Complementation of a yeast thg1 knockout strain with bacterial Thg1 verified in vivo activity and suggests a relaxed recognition of the discriminator base in bacteria.
tRNA-His guanylyltransferase; Thg1; tRNA processing; histidyl-tRNA synthetase; RNase P
Natural transformation can lead to exchange of DNA between taxonomically diverse bacteria. In the case of chromosomal DNA, homology-based recombination with the recipient genome is usually necessary for heritable stability. In our recent study, we have shown that natural transformation can promote the transfer of transposons, IS elements, and integrons and gene cassettes, largely independent of the genetic relationship between the donor and recipient bacteria. Additional results from our study suggest that natural transformation with species-foreign DNA might result in the uptake of a wide range of DNA fragments; leading to changes in the antimicrobial susceptibility profile and contributing to the generation of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria.
natural transformation; transposition; homologous recombination; class 1 integrons; gene cassettes; transposons; mosaic genes; Acinetobacter
Silent information regulator 2 (Sir2) proteins, or sirtuins, are protein deacetylases dependent on nicotine adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and regulate transcriptional repression, recombination, the cell-division cycle, microtubule organization, and cellular responses to DNA-damaging agents.
Silent information regulator 2 (Sir2) proteins, or sirtuins, are protein deacetylases dependent on nicotine adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and are found in organisms ranging from bacteria to humans. In eukaryotes, sirtuins regulate transcriptional repression, recombination, the cell-division cycle, microtubule organization, and cellular responses to DNA-damaging agents. Sirtuins have also been implicated in regulating the molecular mechanisms of aging. The Sir2 catalytic domain, which is shared among all sirtuins, consists of two distinct domains that bind NAD and the acetyl-lysine substrate, respectively. In addition to the catalytic domain, eukaryotic sirtuins contain variable amino- and carboxy-terminal extensions that regulate their subcellular localizations and catalytic activity.
Rabbit globin mRNA has been purified and used as a template by reverse transcriptase. The resulting duplex molecule consisting of rabbit globin mRNA/cNDA has been linked in vitro to Eco RI cleaved plasmid Col E1 DNA. Transformation of E. coli C6OO by this recombinant molecule has been achieved. Transformed bacteria acquire the colicin EQ immunity of Col E1 and a closed circular DNA species of 4.40-4.45 x 10 (6) daltons in molecular weight, an increase of 2.0-2.5 x 10(5) daltons compared to that of the parent plasmid DNA. In addition , 3H cDNA synthesized from globin RNA hybridized perferentially to the recombinant plasmid DNA.
DNA double strand breaks are efficiently repaired by homologous recombination. One of the last steps of this process is resolution of Holliday junctions that are formed at the sites of genetic exchange between homologous DNA. Although various resolvases with Holliday junctions processing activity have been identified in bacteriophages, bacteria and archaebacteria, eukaryotic resolvases have been elusive. Recent biochemical evidence has revealed that RAD51C and XRCC3, members of the RAD51-like protein family, are involved in Holliday junction resolution in mammalian cells. However, purified recombinant RAD51C and XRCC3 proteins have not shown any Holliday junction resolution activity. In addition, these proteins did not reveal the presence of a nuclease domain, which raises doubts about their ability to function as a resolvase. Furthermore, oocytes from infertile Rad51C mutant mice exhibit precocious separation of sister chromatids at metaphase II, a phenotype that reflects a defect in sister chromatid cohesion, not a lack of Holliday junction resolution. Here we discuss a model to explain how a Holliday junction resolution defect can lead to sister chromatid separation in mouse oocytes. We also describe other recent in vitro and in vivo evidence supporting a late role for RAD51C in homologous recombination in mammalian cells, which is likely to be resolution of the Holliday junction.
Deleted in Malignant Brain Tumors 1 (DMBT1) is a secreted scavenger receptor cysteine-rich protein that binds various bacteria and is thought to participate in innate pulmonary host defense. We hypothesized that pulmonary DMBT1 could contribute to respiratory distress syndrome in neonates by modulating surfactant function.
DMBT1 expression was studied by immunohistochemistry and mRNA in situ hybridization in post-mortem lungs of preterm and full-term neonates with pulmonary hyaline membranes. The effect of human recombinant DMBT1 on the function of bovine and porcine surfactant was measured by a capillary surfactometer. DMBT1-levels in tracheal aspirates of ventilated preterm and term infants were determined by ELISA.
Pulmonary DMBT1 was localized in hyaline membranes during respiratory distress syndrome. In vitro addition of human recombinant DMBT1 to the surfactants increased surface tension in a dose-dependent manner. The DMBT1-mediated effect was reverted by the addition of calcium depending on the surfactant preparation.
Our data showed pulmonary DMBT1 expression in hyaline membranes during respiratory distress syndrome and demonstrated that DMBT1 increases lung surface tension in vitro. This raises the possibility that DMBT1 could antagonize surfactant supplementation in respiratory distress syndrome and could represent a candidate target molecule for therapeutic intervention in neonatal lung disease.
In vitro mapping studies of the MD145 norovirus (Caliciviridae) ORF1 polyprotein identified two stable cleavage products containing the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) domains: ProPol (a precursor comprised of both the proteinase and polymerase) and Pol (the mature polymerase). The goal of this study was to identify the active form (or forms) of the norovirus polymerase. The recombinant ProPol (expressed as Pro−Pol with an inactivated proteinase domain to prevent autocleavage) and recombinant Pol were purified after synthesis in bacteria and shown to be active RdRp enzymes. In addition, the mutant His-E1189A-ProPol protein (with active proteinase but with the natural ProPol cleavage site blocked) was active as an RdRp, confirming that the norovirus ProPol precursor could possess two enzymatic activities simultaneously. The effects of several UTP analogs on the RdRp activity of the norovirus and feline calicivirus Pro−Pol enzymes were compared and found to be similar. Our data suggest that the norovirus ProPol is a bifunctional enzyme during virus replication. The availability of this recombinant ProPol enzyme might prove useful in the development of antiviral drugs for control of the noroviruses associated with acute gastroenteritis.
Bacteria are being actively investigated as vaccine carriers for inducing or boosting protective immune responses. In this study, human monocyte-derived dendritic cells (DCs) and normal B cells were compared for their capacity to present the C fragment of tetanus toxin (TTFC), expressed on the surface of recombinant Streptococcus gordonii, to specific CD4+ T lymphocytes. DCs were more efficient than B cells at presenting soluble TTFC and remarkably more capable of presenting bacterium-associated TTFC both in terms of the amount of antigen required to obtain a given T-cell response and on a per-cell basis. This difference was associated with a much lower capacity of B cells to endocytose soluble TTFC and phagocytose recombinant S. gordonii. In addition, S. gordonii induced the phenotypic maturation of DCs but not of B cells. The results thus indicate that DCs but not B cells play a crucial role in the amplification of class II-restricted immune responses induced by immunization with recombinant gram-positive bacteria.
The classic strategy to achieve gene deletion variants is based on double-crossover integration of nonreplicating vectors into the genome. In addition, recombination systems such as Cre-lox have been used extensively, mainly for eukaryotic organisms. This study presents the construction of a Cre-lox-based system for multiple gene deletions in Lactobacillus plantarum that could be adapted for use on gram-positive bacteria. First, an effective mutagenesis vector (pNZ5319) was constructed that allows direct cloning of blunt-end PCR products representing homologous recombination target regions. Using this mutagenesis vector, double-crossover gene replacement mutants could be readily selected based on their antibiotic resistance phenotype. In the resulting mutants, the target gene is replaced by a lox66-P32-cat-lox71 cassette, where lox66 and lox71 are mutant variants of loxP and P32-cat is a chloramphenicol resistance cassette. The lox sites serve as recognition sites for the Cre enzyme, a protein that belongs to the integrase family of site-specific recombinases. Thus, transient Cre recombinase expression in double-crossover mutants leads to recombination of the lox66-P32-cat-lox71 cassette into a double-mutant loxP site, called lox72, which displays strongly reduced recognition by Cre. The effectiveness of the Cre-lox-based strategy for multiple gene deletions was demonstrated by construction of both single and double gene deletions at the melA and bsh1 loci on the chromosome of the gram-positive model organism Lactobacillus plantarum WCFS1. Furthermore, the efficiency of the Cre-lox-based system in multiple gene replacements was determined by successive mutagenesis of the genetically closely linked loci melA and lacS2 in L. plantarum WCFS1. The fact that 99.4% of the clones that were analyzed had undergone correct Cre-lox resolution emphasizes the suitability of the system described here for multiple gene replacement and deletion strategies in a single genetic background.