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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2010 Jul;87(4):1463-73. doi: 10.1007/s00253-010-2588-1. Epub 2010 Apr 27.

Expanding the ku70 toolbox for filamentous fungi: establishment of complementation vectors and recipient strains for advanced gene analyses.

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Department Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology, Institute of Biology Leiden, Leiden University, Sylviusweg 72, 2333 BE Leiden, The Netherlands.


Mutants with a defective non-homologous-end-joining (NHEJ) pathway have boosted functional genomics in filamentous fungi as they are very efficient recipient strains for gene-targeting approaches, achieving homologous recombination frequencies up to 100%. For example, deletion of the ku70 homologous gene kusA in Aspergillus niger resulted in a recipient strain in which deletions of essential or non-essential genes can efficiently be obtained. To verify that the mutant phenotype observed is the result of a gene deletion, a complementation approach has to be performed. Here, an intact copy of the gene is transformed back to the mutant, where it should integrate ectopically into the genome. However, ectopic complementation is difficult in NHEJ-deficient strains, and the gene will preferably integrate via homologous recombination at its endogenous locus. To circumvent that problem, we have constructed autonomously replicating vectors useful for many filamentous fungi which contain either the pyrG allele or a hygromycin resistance gene as selectable markers. Under selective conditions, the plasmids are maintained, allowing complementation analyses; once the selective pressure is removed, the plasmid becomes lost and the mutant phenotype prevails. Another disadvantage of NHEJ-defective strains is their increased sensitivity towards DNA damaging conditions such as radiation. Thus, mutant analyses in these genetic backgrounds are limited and can even be obscured by pleiotropic effects. The use of sexual crossings for the restoration of the NHEJ pathway is, however, impossible in imperfect filamentous fungi such as A. niger. We have therefore established a transiently disrupted kusA strain as recipient strain for gene-targeting approaches.

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