A modified Janus cassette (Sweet Janus) to improve allelic replacement efficiency by high-stringency negative selection in Streptococcus pneumoniae

PLoS One. 2014 Jun 24;9(6):e100510. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0100510. eCollection 2014.


The Janus cassette permits marker-free allelic replacement or knockout in streptomycin-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) through sequential positive and negative selection. Spontaneous revertants of Janus can lead to high level of false-positives during negative selection, which necessitate a time-consuming post-selection screening process. We hypothesized that an additional counter-selectable marker in Janus would decrease the revertant frequency and reduce false-positives, since simultaneous reversion of both counter-selectable makers is much less likely. Here we report a modified cassette, Sweet Janus (SJ), in which the sacB gene from Bacillus subtilis conferring sucrose sensitivity is added to Janus. By using streptomycin and sucrose simultaneously as selective agents, the frequency of SJ double revertants was about 105-fold lower than the frequency of Janus revertants. Accordingly, the frequency of false-positives in the SJ-mediated negative selection was about 100-fold lower than what was seen for Janus. Thus, SJ enhances negative selection stringency and can accelerate allelic replacement in pneumococcus, especially when transformation frequency is low due to strain background or suboptimal transformation conditions. Results also suggested the sacB gene alone can function as a counter-selectable marker in the Gram-positive pneumococcus, which will have the advantage of not requiring a streptomycin-resistant strain for allelic replacement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Alleles*
  • Gene Order
  • Plasmids / genetics
  • Quantitative Trait Loci*
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / genetics*
  • Transformation, Bacterial