High efficiency recombineering in lactic acid bacteria

Nucleic Acids Res. 2012 May;40(10):e76. doi: 10.1093/nar/gks147. Epub 2012 Feb 10.


The ability to efficiently generate targeted point mutations in the chromosome without the need for antibiotics, or other means of selection, is a powerful strategy for genome engineering. Although oligonucleotide-mediated recombineering (ssDNA recombineering) has been utilized in Escherichia coli for over a decade, the successful adaptation of ssDNA recombineering to gram-positive bacteria has not been reported. Here we describe the development and application of ssDNA recombineering in lactic acid bacteria. Mutations were incorporated in the chromosome of Lactobacillus reuteri and Lactococcus lactis without selection at frequencies ranging between 0.4% and 19%. Whole genome sequence analysis showed that ssDNA recombineering is specific and not hypermutagenic. To highlight the utility of ssDNA recombineering we reduced the intrinsic vancomymycin resistance of L. reuteri >100-fold. By creating a single amino acid change in the D-Ala-D-Ala ligase enzyme we reduced the minimum inhibitory concentration for vancomycin from >256 to 1.5 µg/ml, well below the clinically relevant minimum inhibitory concentration. Recombineering thus allows high efficiency mutagenesis in lactobacilli and lactococci, and may be used to further enhance beneficial properties and safety of strains used in medicine and industry. We expect that this work will serve as a blueprint for the adaptation of ssDNA recombineering to other gram-positive bacteria.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • DNA Mismatch Repair
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / metabolism
  • Genetic Engineering / methods*
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Homologous Recombination*
  • Lactobacillus / genetics
  • Lactobacillus reuteri / drug effects
  • Lactobacillus reuteri / genetics*
  • Lactococcus lactis / genetics*
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Vancomycin / pharmacology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • Vancomycin