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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1990 Jul;56(7):2164-9.

Thymidylate synthase gene from Lactococcus lactis as a genetic marker: an alternative to antibiotic resistance genes.

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Department of Food Microbiology, University College, Cork, Ireland.


The potential of the thymidylate synthase thyA gene cloned from Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis as a possible alternative selectable marker gene to antibiotic resistance markers has been examined. The thyA mutation is a recessive lethal one; thyA mutants cannot survive in environments containing low amounts of thymidine or thymine (such as Luria-Bertani medium) unless complemented by the thyA gene. The cloned thyA gene was strongly expressed in L. lactis subsp. lactis, Escherichia coli, Rhizobium meliloti, and a fluorescent Pseudomonas strain. In addition, when fused to a promoterless enteric lac operon, the thyA gene drove expression of the lac genes in a number of gram-negative bacteria. In transformation experiments with thyA mutants of E. coli and conjugation experiments with thyA mutants of R. meliloti, the lactococcal thyA gene permitted selection of transformants and transconjugants with the same efficiency as did genes for resistance to ampicillin, chloramphenicol, or tetracycline. Starting from the broad-host-range plasmid pGD500, a plasmid, designated pPR602, was constructed which is completely free of antibiotic resistance genes and has the lactococcal thyA gene fused to a promoterless lac operon. This plasmid will permit growth of thyA mutant strains in the absence of thymidine or thymine and has a number of unique restriction sites which can be used for cloning.

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