Direct and Inverted Repeat stimulated excision (DIRex): Simple, single-step, and scar-free mutagenesis of bacterial genes

PLoS One. 2017 Aug 30;12(8):e0184126. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0184126. eCollection 2017.

Abstract

The need for generating precisely designed mutations is common in genetics, biochemistry, and molecular biology. Here, I describe a new λ Red recombineering method (Direct and Inverted Repeat stimulated excision; DIRex) for fast and easy generation of single point mutations, small insertions or replacements as well as deletions of any size, in bacterial genes. The method does not leave any resistance marker or scar sequence and requires only one transformation to generate a semi-stable intermediate insertion mutant. Spontaneous excision of the intermediate efficiently and accurately generates the final mutant. In addition, the intermediate is transferable between strains by generalized transductions, enabling transfer of the mutation into multiple strains without repeating the recombineering step. Existing methods that can be used to accomplish similar results are either (i) more complicated to design, (ii) more limited in what mutation types can be made, or (iii) require expression of extrinsic factors in addition to λ Red. I demonstrate the utility of the method by generating several deletions, small insertions/replacements, and single nucleotide exchanges in Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica. Furthermore, the design parameters that influence the excision frequency and the success rate of generating desired point mutations have been examined to determine design guidelines for optimal efficiency.

MeSH terms

  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Genetic Engineering / methods
  • Mutagenesis*
  • Mutation
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Salmonella enterica / genetics*

Grant support

This study was supported by the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet; https://www.vr.se/inenglish.4.12fff4451215cbd83e4800015152.html; grant number 2014-4479 to J.N.). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.