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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2011 Aug;77(15):5370-83. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00434-11. Epub 2011 Jun 17.

Beta-glucuronidase as a sensitive and versatile reporter in actinomycetes.

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Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research, Saarland Campus, Building C2.3, 66123 Saarbrucken, Germany.


Here we describe a versatile and sensitive reporter system for actinomycetes that is based on gusA, which encodes the β-glucuronidase enzyme. A series of gusA-containing transcriptional and translational fusion vectors were constructed and utilized to study the regulatory cascade of the phenalinolactone biosynthetic gene cluster. Furthermore, these vectors were used to study the efficiency of translation initiation at the ATG, GTG, TTG, and CTG start codons. Surprisingly, constructs using a TTG start codon showed the best activity, whereas those using ATG or GTG were approximately one-half or one-third as active, respectively. The CTG fusion showed only 5% of the activity of the TTG fusion. A suicide vector, pKGLP2, carrying gusA in its backbone was used to visually detect merodiploid formation and resolution, making gene targeting in actinomycetes much faster and easier. Three regulatory genes, plaR1, plaR2, and plaR3, involved in phenalinolactone biosynthesis were efficiently replaced with an apramycin resistance marker using this system. Finally, we expanded the genetic code of actinomycetes by introducing the nonproteinogenic amino acid N-epsilon-cyclopentyloxycarbonyl-l-lysine with the GusA protein as a reporter.

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