Until recently, genetic analysis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis, was hindered by a lack of methods for gene disruptions and allelic exchange. Several groups have described different methods for disrupting genes marked with antibiotic resistance determinants in the slow-growing organisms Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) and M. tuberculosis. In this study, we described the first report of using a mycobacterial suicidal plasmid bearing the counterselectable marker sacB for the allelic exchange of unmarked deletion mutations in the chromosomes of two substrains of M. bovis BCG and M. tuberculosis H37Rv. In addition, our comparison of the recombination frequencies in these two slow- growing species and that of the fast-growing organism Mycobacterium smegmatis suggests that the homologous recombination machinery of the three species is equally efficient. The mutants constructed here have deletions in the lysA gene, encoding meso-diaminopimelate decarboxylase, an enzyme catalyzing the last step in lysine biosynthesis. We observed striking differences in the lysine auxotrophic phenotypes of these three species of mycobacteria. The M. smegmatis mutant can grow on lysine-supplemented defined medium or complex rich medium, while the BCG mutants grow only on lysine-supplemented defined medium and are unable to form colonies on complex rich medium. The M. tuberculosis lysine auxotroph requires 25-fold more lysine on defined medium than do the other mutants and is dependent upon the detergent Tween 80. The mutants described in this work are potential vaccine candidates and can also be used for studies of cell wall biosynthesis and amino acid metabolism.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology