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Mol Microbiol. 2003 Jun;48(5):1241-52.

A reporter gene system for the hyperthermophilic archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus based on a selectable and integrative shuttle vector.

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Institute of Microbiology and Genetics, Darmstadt University of Technology, Schnittspahnstr. 10, Germany.


Sulfolobus solfataricus has developed into an important model organism for molecular and biochemical studies of hyperthermophilic archaea. Although a number of in vitro systems have been established for the organism, efficient tools for genetic manipulations have not yet been available for any hyperthermophile. In this work, we have developed a stable and selectable shuttle vector based on the virus SSV1 of Sulfolobus shibatae. We have introduced pUC18 for propagation in Escherichia coli and the genes pyrEF coding for orotidine-5'-monophosphate pyrophosphorylase and orotidine-5'-monophosphate decarboxylase of Sulfolobus solfataricus as selectable marker to complement pyrimidine auxotrophic mutants. Furthermore, the beta-galactosidase gene (lacS) was introduced into this vector as a reporter under the control of the strong and heat-inducible promoter of the Sulfolobus chaperonin (thermosome). After transformation of a S. solfataricus pyrEF/lacS double mutant, the vector was found to reside as a single-copy vector, stably integrated into the host chromosome via the site-specific recombination system of SSV1. Specific beta-galactosidase activities in transformants were found to be fourfold higher than in wild-type S. solfataricus cells, and increased to more than 10-fold after heat shock. Greatly increased levels of lacS mRNA were detected in Northern analyses, demonstrating that this reporter gene system is suitable for the study of regulated promoters in Sulfolobus and that the vector can also be used for the high-level expression of genes from hyperthermophilic archaea.

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