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Open Access Highly Accessed Methodology article

pBAM1: an all-synthetic genetic tool for analysis and construction of complex bacterial phenotypes

Esteban Martínez-García1, Belén Calles1, Miguel Arévalo-Rodríguez1 and Víctor de Lorenzo2*

Author affiliations

1 Systems Biology Program. Centro Nacional de Biotecnología-CSIC (Calle Darwin 3, Campus de Cantoblanco), Madrid (E-28049), Spain

2 Biomedal SL (Av. Américo Vespucio, 5), Sevilla (E-41092), Spain

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Citation and License

BMC Microbiology 2011, 11:38  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-11-38

Published: 22 February 2011

Abstract

Background

Since publication in 1977 of plasmid pBR322, many breakthroughs in Biology have depended on increasingly sophisticated vector platforms for analysis and engineering of given bacterial strains. Although restriction sites impose a certain format in the procedures for assembling cloned genes, every attempt thus far to standardize vector architecture and nomenclature has ended up in failure. While this state of affairs may still be tolerable for traditional one-at-a-time studies of single genes, the onset of systems and synthetic biology calls for a simplification -along with an optimization- of the currently unwieldy pool of genetic tools.

Results

The functional DNA sequences present in the natural bacterial transposon Tn5 have been methodically edited and refactored for the production of a multi-purpose genetic tool named pBAM1, which allows a range of manipulations in the genome of Gram-negative bacteria. This all-synthetic construct enhances the power of mini-transposon vectors for either de-construction or re-construction of phenotypes á la carte by incorporating features inspired in systems engineering: modularity, re-usability, minimization, and compatibility with other genetic tools. pBAM1 bears an streamlined, restriction site-freed and narrow-host range replication frame bearing the sequences of R6K oriV, oriT and an ampicillin resistance marker. These go along with a business module that contains a host-independent and hyperactive transposition platform for in vivo or in vitro insertion of desired DNA into the genome of the target bacterium. All functional sequences were standardized for a straightforward replacement by equivalent counterparts, if required. pBAM1 can be delivered into recipient cells by either mating or electroporation, producing transposon insertion frequencies of 1.8 × 10-3 and 1.02 × 10-7, respectively in the soil bacterium Pseudomonas putida. Analyses of the resulting clones revealed a 100% of unique transposition events and virtually no-cointegration of the donor plasmid within the target genome.

Conclusions

This work reports the design and performance of an all-synthetic mini-transposon vector. The power of the new system for both identification of new functions or for the construction of desired phenotypes is shown in a genetic survey of hyper-expressed proteins and regulatory elements that influence the expression of the σ54-dependent Pu promoter of P. putida.