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Biotechnology (N Y). 1996 Feb;14(2):189-91.

Restricting the dispersal of recombinant DNA: design of a contained biological catalyst.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, GBF-National Research Centre for Biotechnology, Braunschweig, Germany.


To restrict horizontal gene spread and, thus, create organisms whose behavior in the field is more predictable, we have combined a mini-Tn5 cloning system that allows stable insertion of foreign genes into the chromosomes of a variety of Gram-negative bacteria with a gene-containment circuit based on the universal lethal-function colicin E3. Use of the system is exemplified by the construction of a micro-organism designed to degrade polychlorinated biphenyls, important environmental pollutants. The relevant genotype of the microorganism is subject to a stringent gene-containment mechanism that provides neither an advantage nor a disadvantage to the host cell for survival, but decreases frequencies of productive chromosomal transfer frequencies by at least four orders of magnitude.

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