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Cre-lox-Based Method for Generation of Large Deletions within the Genomic Magnetosome Island of Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense

Ullrich, Susanne, Schüler, Dirk
Applied and environmental microbiology 2010 v.76 no.8 pp. 2439-2444
Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense, antibiotics, bacteria, chromosomes, engineering, excision, genomic islands, homologous recombination, mutants, operon, plasmid curing, plasmids, viability
Magnetosome biomineralization and magnetotaxis in magnetotactic bacteria are controlled by numerous, mostly unknown gene functions that are predominantly encoded by several operons located within the genomic magnetosome island (MAI). Genetic analysis of magnetotactic bacteria has remained difficult and requires the development of novel tools. We established a Cre-lox-based deletion method which allows the excision of large genomic fragments in Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense. Two conjugative suicide plasmids harboring lox sites that flanked the target region were subsequently inserted into the chromosome by homologous recombination, requiring only one single-crossover event, respectively, and resulting in a double cointegrate. Excision of the targeted chromosomal segment that included the inserted plasmids and their resistance markers was induced by trans expression of Cre recombinase, which leaves behind a scar of only a single loxP site. The Cre helper plasmid was then cured from the deletant strain by relief of antibiotic selection. We have used this method for the deletion of 16.3-kb, 61-kb, and 67.3-kb fragments from the genomic MAI, either in a single round or in subsequent rounds of deletion, covering a region of approximately 87 kb that comprises the mamAB, mms6, and mamGFDC operons. As expected, all mutants were Mag⁻ and some were Mot⁻; otherwise, they showed normal growth patterns, which indicates that the deleted region is not essential for viability in the laboratory. The method will facilitate future functional analysis of magnetosome genes and also can be utilized for large-scale genome engineering in magnetotactic bacteria.