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Producing Gene Deletions in Escherichia coli by P1 Transduction with Excisable Antibiotic Resistance Cassettes

Published: September 1st, 2018



1Evolution and Genetics, Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo

Here we present a protocol for the use of pre-existing antibiotic resistance-cassette deletion constructs as a basis for making deletion mutants in other E. coli strains. Such deletion mutations can be mobilized and inserted into the corresponding locus of a recipient strain using P1 bacteriophage transduction.

A first approach to study the function of an unknown gene in bacteria is to create a knock-out of this gene. Here, we describe a robust and fast protocol for transferring gene deletion mutations from one Escherichia coli strain to another by using generalized transduction with the bacteriophage P1. This method requires that the mutation be selectable (e.g., based on gene disruptions using antibiotic cassette insertions). Such antibiotic cassettes can be mobilized from a donor strain and introduced into a recipient strain of interest to quickly and easily generate a gene deletion mutant. The antibiotic cassette can be designed to include flippase recognition sites that allow the excision of the cassette by a site-specific recombinase to produce a clean knock-out with only a ~100-base-pair-long scar sequence in the genome. We demonstrate the protocol by knocking out the tamA gene encoding an assembly factor involved in autotransporter biogenesis and test the effect of this knock-out on the biogenesis and function of two trimeric autotransporter adhesins. Though gene deletion by P1 transduction has its limitations, the ease and speed of its implementation make it an attractive alternative to other methods of gene deletion.

A common first approach to study the function of a gene is to perform knock-out mutagenesis and observe the resulting phenotype. This is also termed reverse genetics. The bacterium E. coli has been the workhorse of molecular biology for the last 70 years or so, due to the ease of its culturing and its amenability to genetic manipulation1. Several methods have been developed to produce gene deletions in E. coli, including marker exchange mutagenesis2,3 and, more recently, recombineering using the λ Red or Rac ET systems4,

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1. Strains and Plasmids

  1. Bacterial strains
    1. Use the E. coli strains BW251135, JW4179 (BW25113 tamA::kan)7, BL21(DE3)20, and BL21ΔABCF21. See Table of Materials for further information.
  2. Bacteriophages
    1. Use the phage P1vir for the general transduction. Store the phage as a liquid stock with .......

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Generation of a tamA Knock-out of BL21ΔABCF:

The strategy outlined above has previously been used to produce a derivative strain of BL21(DE3), a standard laboratory strain used for protein production, which is optimized for outer membrane protein production and called BL21ΔABCF21. This strain lacks four genes coding for abundant outer membrane proteins and, consequently, is able to produce.......

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P1 transduction is a fast, robust, and reliable method for generating gene deletions in E. coli. This is demonstrated here by transducing a tamA deletion mutant from a Keio donor strain to a BL21-derived recipient. The major stages in the transduction process are the production of the transducing lysate, the transduction itself, the excision of the Kan resistance cassette, and the verification of the knock-out by PCR. In total, the process takes approximately 1 week and requires no molecular biology met.......

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Keio collection strains were obtained from the National BioResource Project (NIG, Japan): E. coli. We thank Dirk Linke (Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo) for his continuing support. This work was funded by the Research Council of Norway Young Researcher grant 249793 (to Jack C. Leo).


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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
E. coli BW25113 NIG ME6092 Wild-type strain of Keio collection
E. coli BL21(DE3) Merck 69450-3 Expression strain
E. coli BL21DABCF Addgene 102270 Derived from BL21(DE3)
E. coli JW4179 NIG JW4179-KC tamA deletion mutant
P1 vir NIG HR16 Generally transducing bacteriophage
pCP20 CGSC 14177 conditionally replicating plasmid with FLP
pASK-IBA2 IBA GmbH 2-1301-000 expression vector
pEibD10 N/A N/A for production of EibD; plasmid available on request
pET22b+ Merck 69744-3 expression vector
pIBA2-YadA N/A N/A for production of YadA; plasmid available on request
Acetic acid ThermoFisher 33209
Agar BD Bacto 214010
Agarose Lonza 50004
Ampicillin Applichem A0839
Anhydrotetracycline Abcam ab145350
anti-collagen type I antibody COL-1 Sigma C2456
Bovine collagen type I Sigma C9791
Calcium chloride Merck 102382
Chloroform Merck 102445
Di-sodium hydrogen phosphate VWR 28029
DNA dye Thermo S33102
DNA molecular size marker New England BioLabs N3232S
DNase I Sigma DN25
dNTP mix New England Biolabs N0447
ECL HRP substrate Advansta K-12045
EDTA Applichem A2937
Glycerol VWR 24388
goat anti-mouse IgG-HRP Santa Cruz sc-2005
goat anti-rabbit IgG-HRP Agrisera AS10668
Isopropyl thiogalactoside VWR 43714
Kanamycin Applichem A1493
Lysozyme Applichem A4972
Magnesium chloride VWR 25108
Manganese chloride Sigma 221279
N-lauroyl sarcosine Sigma L9150
Skim milk powder Sigma 70166
Sodium chloride VWR 27808
tamA forward primer Invitrogen N/A Sequence 5'-GAAAAAAGGATATTCAGGAGAAAATGTG-3'
tamA reverse primer Invitrogen N/A Sequence 5'-TCATAATTCTGGCCCCAGACC-3'
Taq DNA polymerase New England Biolabs M0267
Tri-sodium citrate Merck 106448
Tryptone VWR 84610
Tween20 Sigma P1379
Yeast extract Merck 103753
Agarose gel electrophoresis chamber Hoefer SUB13
Bead beater Thermo FP120A-115
CCD camera Kodak 4000R
Electroporation cuvettes Bio-Rad 165-2089
Electroporation unit Bio-Rad 1652100
Gel imager Nippon Genetics GP-03LED
Incubating shaker Infors HT Minitron
Incubator VWR 390-0482
Microcentrifuge Eppendorf 5415D
Microwave oven Samsung CM1099A
PCR machine Biometra Tpersonal
PCR strips Axygen PCR-0208-CP-C
pH meter Hanna Instruments HI2211-01
PVDF membrane ThermoFisher 88518
SDS-PAG electrophoresis chamber ThermoFisher A25977
Tabletop centrifuge Beckman Coulter B06322
Vortex mixer Scientific Industries SI-0236
Water bath GFL D3006
Wet transfer unit Hoefer TE22

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