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Counterselection systems facilitate marker-free genetic modifications in microbes by enabling positive selections for both the introduction of a marker gene into the microbe and elimination of the marker from the microbe. Here we report a counterselection system for Geobacillus kaustophilus HTA426, established through simultaneous disruption of the pyrF and pyrR genes. The pyrF gene, essential for pyrimidine biosynthesis and metabolization of 5-fluoroorotic acid (5-FOA) to toxic metabolites, was disrupted by homologous recombination. The resultant MK54 strain (ΔpyrF) was auxotrophic for uracil and resistant to 5-FOA. MK54 complemented with pyrF was prototrophic for uracil but insensitive to 5-FOA in the presence of uracil. To confer 5-FOA sensitivity, the pyrR gene encoding an attenuator to repress pyrimidine biosynthesis by sensing uracil derivatives was disrupted. The resultant MK72 strain (ΔpyrF ΔpyrR) was auxotrophic for uracil and resistant to 5-FOA. MK72 complemented with pyrF was prototrophic for uracil and 5-FOA sensitive even in the presence of uracil. The results suggested that pyrF could serve as a counterselection marker in MK72, which was demonstrated by efficient marker-free integrations of heterologous β-galactosidase and α-amylase genes. The integrated genes were functionally expressed in G. kaustophilus and conferred new functions on the thermophile. This report describes the first establishment of a pyrF-based counterselection system in a Bacillus-related bacterium, along with the first demonstration of homologous recombination and heterologous gene expression in G. kaustophilus. Our results also suggest a new strategy for establishment of counterselection systems.


Hirokazu Suzuki, Ayano Murakami, Ken-ichi Yoshida. Counterselection system for Geobacillus kaustophilus HTA426 through disruption of pyrF and pyrR. Applied and environmental microbiology. 2012 Oct;78(20):7376-83

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PMID: 22885745

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