Sequence analysis of two cryptic plasmids from Bifidobactenum longum DJO10A and construction of a shuttle cloning vector

Ju Hoon Lee, Daniel J O'Sullivan

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Bifidobacterium longum DJO10A is a recent human isolate with probiotic characteristics and contains two plasmids, designated pDOJH10L and pDOJH10S. The complete sequences of both these plasmids have now been determined and consist of two circular DNA molecules of 10,073 and 3,661 bp, with G+C contents of 62.2% and 66.2%, respectively. Plasmid pDOJH10L is a cointegrate plasmid consisting of DNA regions exhibiting very high sequence identity to two other B. longum plasmids, pNAC2 (98%) and pKJ50 (96%), together with another region. Interestingly, the rolling circular replication (RCR) regions of both the pNAC2- and pKJ50-like plasmids were disrupted during the recombination event leading to a further recombination event to acquire a functional replicon. This consists of a new fused rep gene and an RCR-type on consisting of a conserved DnaA box in an AT-rich region followed by four contiguous repeated sequences consistent with an iteron structure and an inverted repeat. The smaller pDOJHIOS had no sequence similarity to any other characterized plasmid from bifidobacteria. In addition, it did not contain any features consistent with RCR, which is the replication mechanism proposed for all the bifidobacteria plasmids characterized to date. It did exhibit sequence similarity with several theta replication-related replication proteins from other gram-positive, high-G+C bacteria, with the closest match from a Rhodococcus rhodochrous plasmid, suggesting a theta mechanism of replication. S1 nuclease analysis of both plasmids in B. longum DJO10A revealed single-strand DNA intermediates for pDOJH10L, which is consistent for RCR, but none were detected for pDOJH10S. As the G+C content of pDOJH10S is similar to that of Rhodococcus rhodochrous (67%) and significantly higher than that of B. longum (60.1%), it may have been acquired through horizontal gene transfer from a Rhodococcus species, as both genera are members of the Actinomycetes and are intestinal inhabitants. An Escherichia coli-B. longum shuttle cloning vector was constructed from pDOJH10S and the E. coll ori region of p15A, a lacZ gene with a multiple cloning site of pUC18, and a chloramphenicol resistance gene (CAT) of pCI372 and was transformed successfully into E. coli and B. longum. It could not be introduced into lactic acid bacteria (Lactococcus and Lactobacillus), showing it was not very promiscuous. It was stably maintained in B. longum in the absence of antibiotic pressure for 92 generations, which is consistent with the segregational stability of theta-replicating plasmids in gram-positive bacteria. This is the first cloning vector for bifidobacteria that does not utilize RCR and should be useful for the stable introduction of heterologous genes into these dominant inhabitants of the large intestine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)527-535
Number of pages9
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


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