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Bactofection, a bacterial-mediated form of genetic transfer, is highlighted as an alternative mechanism for gene therapy. A key advantage of this system for immune-reactivity purposes stems from the nature of the bacterial host capable of initiating an immune response by attracting recognition and cellular uptake by antigen-presenting cells (APCs). The approach is also a suitable technique to deliver larger genetic constructs more efficiently as it can transfer plasmids of varying sizes into target mammalian cells. Given these advantages, bacterial vectors are being studied as potential carriers for the delivery of plasmid DNA into target cells to enable expression of heterologous proteins. The bacteria used for bactofection are generally nonpathogenic; however, concerns arise due to the use of a biological agent. To overcome such concerns, enhanced bacterial degradation has been engineered as an attenuation and safety feature for bactofection vectors. In particular, the ΦX174 lysis E (LyE) gene can be repurposed to both minimize bacterial survival within mammalian hosts while also improving overall gene delivery. More specifically, an engineered bacterial vector carrying the LyE gene showed improved gene delivery and safety profiles when tested with murine RAW264.7 macrophage APCs. This chapter outlines steps taken to engineer E. coli for LyE expression as a safer and more effective genetic antigen delivery bactofection vehicle in the context of vaccine utility.


Dongwon Park, Andrew Hill, Blaine A Pfeifer. Improving E. coli Bactofection by Expression of Bacteriophage ΦX174 Gene E. Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.). 2021;2211:3-14

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PMID: 33336266

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