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J Bacteriol. 2004 Aug;186(15):4921-30.

Systematic mutagenesis of the Escherichia coli genome.

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Department of Genetics, University of Madison-Wisconsin, Rm. 206, 445 Henry Mall, Madison, WI 53706, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Bacteriol. 2004 Dec;186(24):8548.


A high-throughput method has been developed for the systematic mutagenesis of the Escherichia coli genome. The system is based on in vitro transposition of a modified Tn5 element, the Sce-poson, into linear fragments of each open reading frame. The transposon introduces both positive (kanamycin resistance) and negative (I-SceI recognition site) selectable markers for isolation of mutants and subsequent allele replacement, respectively. Reaction products are then introduced into the genome by homologous recombination via the lambdaRed proteins. The method has yielded insertion alleles for 1976 genes during a first pass through the genome including, unexpectedly, a number of known and putative essential genes. Sce-poson insertions can be easily replaced by markerless mutations by using the I-SceI homing endonuclease to select against retention of the transposon as demonstrated by the substitution of amber and/or in-frame deletions in six different genes. This allows a Sce-poson-containing gene to be specifically targeted for either designed or random modifications, as well as permitting the stepwise engineering of strains with multiple mutations. The promiscuous nature of Tn5 transposition also enables a targeted gene to be dissected by using randomly inserted Sce-posons as shown by a lacZ allelic series. Finally, assessment of the insertion sites by an iterative weighted matrix algorithm reveals that these hyperactive Tn5 complexes generally recognize a highly degenerate asymmetric motif on one end of the target site helping to explain the randomness of Tn5 transposition.

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