Efficient gene transfer and targeted mutagenesis in Fusobacterium nucleatum

Plasmid. 2006 Jan;55(1):27-38. doi: 10.1016/j.plasmid.2005.06.002. Epub 2005 Aug 22.


Fusobacterium nucleatum is a Gram-negative anaerobe important in dental biofilm ecology and infectious diseases with significant societal impact. The lack of efficient genetic systems has hampered molecular analyses in this microorganism. We previously reported construction of a shuttle plasmid, pHS17, using the native fusobacterial plasmid pFN1 and an erythromycin resistance cassette. However, the host range of pHS17 was restricted to F. nucleatum, ATCC 10953, and the transformation efficiency was limited. This study was undertaken to improve genetic systems for molecular analysis in F. nucleatum. We identified a second F. nucleatum strain, ATCC 23726, which is transformed with improved efficiency compared to ATCC 10953. Two novel second generation pFN1-based shuttle plasmids, pHS23 and pHS30, were developed and enable transformation of ATCC 23726 at 6.2 x 10(4) and 1.5 x 10(6) transformants/mug plasmid DNA, respectively. The transformation efficiency of pHS30, which harbors a catP gene conferring resistance to chloramphenicol, was more than 1000-fold greater than that of pHS17. The improved transformation efficiency facilitated disruption of the chromosomal rnr gene using a suicide plasmid pHS19, the first demonstration of targeted mutagenesis in F. nucleatum. These results provide significant advances in the development of systems for molecular analysis in F. nucleatum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chloramphenicol Resistance
  • Chromosomes, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Fusobacterium Infections
  • Fusobacterium nucleatum / genetics*
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed*
  • Plasmids / genetics*
  • Transformation, Genetic*


  • DNA, Bacterial