Use of a flexible cassette method to generate a double unmarked Mycobacterium tuberculosis tlyA plcABC mutant by gene replacement

Microbiology (Reading). 2000 Aug;146 ( Pt 8):1969-1975. doi: 10.1099/00221287-146-8-1969.


Progress in the field of mycobacterial research has been hindered by the inability to readily generate defined mutant strains of the slow-growing mycobacteria to investigate the function of specific genes. An efficient method is described that has been used to generate several mutants, including the first double unmarked deletion strain of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Four mutants were constructed: a marked deletion of the plcABC cluster, which encodes three phospholipases C; separate unmarked deletions in plcABC and tlyA (encoding a haemolysin); and a double unmarked mutant tlyADelta plcABCDelta. To accomplish this, two series of vectors were designed, the first of which, named pNIL, allows manipulation of the target gene sequence at a variety of convenient restriction sites. The second series, named pGOAL, contains marker cassettes flanked by PAC:I restriction enzyme sites. The final suicide plasmid vectors were then obtained by cloning a marker cassette from a pGOAL vector into the single PAC:I site of the pNIL vector with the modified gene of interest. Finally, a two-step strategy was employed whereby single cross-over events were first selected, then screening for the second cross-over was carried out to yield the mutant strains. This technique will now allow the construction of potential vaccine strains without the inclusion of antibiotic resistance markers, the ability to make multiple defined mutations and the possibility of making more subtle defined mutations, such as point mutations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins*
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / genetics
  • Gene Deletion
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Hemolysin Proteins / genetics
  • Multigene Family
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional / methods*
  • Mutation*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / enzymology
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics*
  • Phenotype
  • Phosphatidylinositol Diacylglycerol-Lyase
  • Plasmids / genetics
  • Type C Phospholipases / genetics


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Hemolysin Proteins
  • TlyA protein, Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Type C Phospholipases
  • phosphatidylcholine-specific phospholipase C
  • Phosphatidylinositol Diacylglycerol-Lyase