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A Broad Host Range Mobilization System for In Vivo Genetic Engineering: Transposon Mutagenesis in Gram Negative Bacteria

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Abstract

We have developed a new vector strategy for the insertion of foreign genes into the genomes of gram negative bacteria not closely related to Escherichia coli. The system consists of two components: special E. coli donor strains and derivatives of E. coli vector plasmids. The donor strains (called mobilizing strains) carry the transfer genes of the broad host range IncP–type plasmid RP4 integrated in their chromosomes. They can utilize any gram negative bacterium as a recipient for conjugative DNA transfer. The vector plasmids contain the P–type specific recognition site for mobilization (Mob site) and can be mobilized with high frequency from the donor strains. The mobilizable vectors are derived from the commonly used E. coli vectors pACYC184, pACYC177, and pBR325, and are unable to replicate in strains outside the enteric bacterial group. Therefore, they are widely applicable as transposon carrier replicons for random transposon insertion mutagenesis in any strain into which they can be mobilized but not stably maintained. The vectors are especially useful for site–directed transposon mutagenesis and for site–specific gene transfer in a wide variety of gram negative organisms.

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