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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 May 25;101(21):7925-30. Epub 2004 May 17.

Design of temperature-sensitive mutants solely from amino acid sequence.

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Molecular Biophysics Unit, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560012, India.


Temperature-sensitive (Ts) mutants are a powerful tool with which to study gene function in vivo. Ts mutants are typically generated by random mutagenesis followed by laborious screening procedures. By using the Escherichia coli cytotoxin CcdB as a model system, simple procedures for generating Ts mutants at high frequency through site-directed mutagenesis were developed. Putative buried, hydrophobic residues are selected through analysis of the protein sequence. Residue burial is confirmed by ensuring that substitution of the residue by Asp leads to protein inactivation. At such sites, a Ts phenotype can typically be generated either by (i) substitution of two predicted, buried residues with the 18 remaining amino acids or (ii) introduction of Lys, Ser, Ala, and Trp at three to four predicted buried sites. By using these design strategies, 17 tight Ts mutants of CcdB were isolated at four predicted buried sites. The rules were further verified by making several Ts mutants of yeast Gal4 at residues 68, 69, and 70. No Ts mutants of either protein have been previously reported. Such Ts mutants of Gal4 can be used for conditional expression of a variety of genes by using the well characterized upstream-activating-sequence-Gal4 system.

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