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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2002 Nov;68(11):5528-36.

Construction of a shuttle vector for, and spheroplast transformation of, the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus abyssi.

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LEMAR, UMR CNRS 6539, IUEM, Université de Bretagne Occidentale, Technopôle Brest-Iroise, 29280 Plouzané Institut de Génétique et Microbiologie, Université Paris-Sud, 91405 Orsay Cedex, France.


Our understanding of the genetics of species of the best-studied hyperthermophilic archaea, Pyrococcus spp., is presently limited by the lack of suitable genetic tools, such as a stable cloning vector and the ability to select individual transformants on plates. Here we describe the development of a reliable host-vector system for the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus abyssi. Shuttle vectors were constructed based on the endogenous plasmid pGT5 from P. abyssi strain GE5 and the bacterial vector pLitmus38. As no antibiotic resistance marker is currently available for Pyrococcus spp., we generated a selectable auxotrophic marker. Uracil auxotrophs resistant to 5-fluoorotic acid were isolated from P. abyssi strain GE9 (devoid of pGT5). Genetic analysis of these mutants revealed mutations in the pyrE and/or pyrF genes, encoding key enzymes of the pyrimidine biosynthetic pathway. Two pyrE mutants exhibiting low reversion rates were retained for complementation experiments. For that purpose, the pyrE gene, encoding orotate phosphoribosyltransferase (OPRTase) of the thermoacidophilic crenarchaeote Sulfolobus acidocaldarius, was introduced into the pGT5-based vector, giving rise to pYS2. With a polyethylene glycol-spheroplast method, we could reproducibly transform P. abyssi GE9 pyrE mutants to prototrophy, though with low frequency (10(2) to 10(3) transformants per micro g of pYS2 plasmid DNA). Transformants did grow as well as the wild type on minimal medium without uracil and showed comparable OPRTase activity. Vector pYS2 proved to be very stable and was maintained at high copy number under selective conditions in both Escherichia coli and P. abyssi.

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