Synthetic control of plasmid replication enables target- and self-curing of vectors and expedites genome engineering of Pseudomonas putida

Metab Eng Commun. 2020 Mar 19;10:e00126. doi: 10.1016/j.mec.2020.e00126. eCollection 2020 Jun.


Genome engineering of non-conventional microorganisms calls for the development of dedicated synthetic biology tools. Pseudomonas putida is a Gram-negative, non-pathogenic soil bacterium widely used for metabolic engineering owing to its versatile metabolism and high levels of tolerance to different types of stress. Genome editing of P. putida largely relies on homologous recombination events, assisted by helper plasmid-based expression of genes encoding DNA modifying enzymes. Plasmid curing from selected isolates is the most tedious and time-consuming step of this procedure, and implementing commonly used methods to this end in P. putida (e.g. temperature-sensitive replicons) is often impractical. To tackle this issue, we have developed a toolbox for both target- and self-curing of plasmid DNA in Pseudomonas species. Our method enables plasmid-curing in a simple cultivation step by combining in vivo digestion of vectors by the I-SceI homing nuclease with synthetic control of plasmid replication, triggered by the addition of a cheap chemical inducer (3-methylbenzoate) to the medium. The system displays an efficiency of vector curing >90% and the screening of plasmid-free clones is greatly facilitated by the use of fluorescent markers that can be selected according to the application intended. Furthermore, quick genome engineering of P. putida using self-curing plasmids is demonstrated through genome reduction of the platform strain EM42 by eliminating all genes encoding β-lactamases, the catabolic ben gene cluster, and the pyoverdine synthesis machinery. Physiological characterization of the resulting streamlined strain, P. putida SEM10, revealed advantageous features that could be exploited for metabolic engineering.

Keywords: Genome engineering; Metabolic engineering; Plasmid curing; Pseudomonas putida; Synthetic biology.