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Gene. 1988 Sep 15;69(1):59-69.

Construction of a new shuttle expression vector for Bacillus subtilis and Escherichia coli by using a polycistronic system.

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Research Center of Mitsubishi Kasei Corporation, Kanagawa, Japan.


A shuttle vector has been constructed by fusing the Bacillus subtilis trimethoprim-resistance-carrying (TpR) plasmid pNC601 with the Escherichia coli plasmid pBR322. The resultant plasmid pNBL1 can replicate in both B. subtilis and E. coli, conferring Tp resistance on both cells and ampicillin resistance (ApR) on E. coli. The B. subtilis dihydrofolate reductase operon (dfr) on pNC601 and therefore on pNBL1 consists of the thymidylate synthase B gene (thyB) and the TpR-dihydrofolate reductase gene lacking the C-terminal seven codons (designated as drfA' as compared with the complete dfrA gene). A direct-expression vector pNBL3 has been constructed by inserting synthetic oligodeoxynucleotides containing a Bacillus ribosome-binding site (RBS) and the ATG codon downstream from dfrA' on pNBL1. When the E. coli lacZ gene was placed downstream from the dfrA' gene in pNBL3, efficient synthesis of beta-galactosidase was observed in both cells, showing that the polycistronic expression system is suitable for directing expression of heterologous genes. Translational efficiency of the lacZ gene on pNBL3 was further examined in B. subtilis by changing the sequence upstream from lacZ. Unlike the results previously reported [Sprengel et al., Nucleic Acids Res. 13 (1985) 893-909], when RBS was present, the high level of lacZ expression was preserved irrespective of spacing between the stop codon of the upstream dfrA' gene and the start codon of the downstream lacZ gene. However, in the absence of RBS, the spacing between both genes affected lacZ expression. That is, translational coupling of dfrA'-lacZ was observed, although the translational efficiency was very low.

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