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Methods Mol Biol. 2012;845:119-30. doi: 10.1007/978-1-61779-539-8_8.

Targeted gene deletion in Aspergillus fumigatus using the hygromycin-resistance split-marker approach.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, McGill University, Montréal, QC, Canada.


The construction of a fungal strain that lacks a specific gene product is often accomplished by replacing the gene of interest with a selection marker using site-specific recombination. Transformation of Aspergillus fumigatus, like many related fungal species, must overcome two major obstacles. First, the cell wall limits the entry of exogenous DNA, and second, a high rate of nonhomologous recombination leads to random ectopic integration of the marker. Here, we describe an experimental strategy that has been successfully used to overcome these challenges through protoplast transformation with split-marker cassettes. Each cassette is constructed to contain sequences flanking the gene of interest fused to an incomplete fragment of a dominant selection marker. The resistance marker is only functional if both fragments undergo recombination to regenerate an intact resistance cassette. This event is favored by the proximity of the DNA constructs that arises as a result of homologous recombination between the target-gene sequences in the deletion construct with the fungal chromosome. A similar strategy can be employed using a second resistance marker to complement the deletion mutant with an intact allele of the gene of interest.

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