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J Bacteriol. 2003 Jan;185(1):210-20.

Targeted gene disruption by homologous recombination in the hyperthermophilic archaeon Thermococcus kodakaraensis KOD1.

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  • 1Department of Synthetic Chemistry and Biological Chemistry, Graduate School of Engineering, Kyoto University, Yoshida-Honmachi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8501.


In contrast to the high accumulation in sequence data for hyperthermophilic archaea, methodology for genetically manipulating these strains is still at an early stage. This study aimed to develop a gene disruption system for the hyperthermophilic euryarchaeon Thermococcus kodakaraensis KOD1. Uracil-auxotrophic mutants with mutations in the orotidine-5'-monophosphate decarboxylase gene (pyrF) were isolated by positive selection using 5-fluoroorotic acid (5-FOA) and used as hosts for further transformation experiments. We then attempted targeted disruption of the trpE locus in the host strain by homologous recombination, as disruption of trpE was expected to result in tryptophan auxotrophy, an easily detectable phenotype. A disruption vector harboring the pyrF marker within trpE was constructed for double-crossover recombination. The host cells were transformed with the exogenous DNA using the CaCl(2) method, and several transformants could be selected based on genetic complementation. Genotypic and phenotypic analyses of a transformant revealed the unique occurrence of targeted disruption, as well as a phenotypic change of auxotrophy from uracil to tryptophan caused by integration of the wild-type pyrF into the host chromosome at trpE. As with the circular plasmid, gene disruption with linear DNA was also possible when the homologous regions were relatively long. Shortening these regions led to predominant recombination between the pyrF marker in the exogenous DNA and the mutated allele on the host chromosome. In contrast, we could not obtain trpE disruptants by insertional inactivation using a vector designed for single-crossover recombination. The gene targeting system developed in this study provides a long-needed tool in the research on hyperthermophilic archaea and will open the way to a systematic, genetic approach for the elucidation of unknown gene function in these organisms.

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