Insertional mutagenesis using a synthetic lac operator
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We have developed a novel cassette for generating insertion mutants in multi-copy bacterial plasmids. The cassette consists of synthetic oligodeoxyribonucleotides (oligos) which form a DNA duplex following reconstitution in vitro, due to sequence complementarity. It contains a 21-bp segment of the lac operator (lacZo), to provide a readily detectable phenotypic marker. Bacterial colonies harboring plasmids with insertions of this cassette are blue due to constitutive expression of the lac operon resulting from titration of lac repressor molecules by plasmid-borne lacZo sequences. Synthetic oligos containing a desire sequence may be added to the cassette by complementary ends for targeted insertion into plasmids. Sequencing of the resulting insertion mutants is facilitated by using oligos within the cassette as primers for bidirectional sequencing. This allows a complete characterization of each insertion in terms of location, structure of flanking sequences, and orientation of the inserted oligo. We have used this system to construct a series of mutants in early region 1a genes of human adenovirus type 5. For this purpose we designed a cassette which had all three possible translational reading frames open when inserted in one orientation, and all reading frames closed in the other orientation. The cassette also had BamHI restriction sites at each end which could be used to 'collapse' mutants, reducing the size of each insert to 6 bp.
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