Biochemical and biophysical research communications

An efficient system for deletion of large DNA fragments in Escherichia coli via introduction of both Cas9 and the non-homologous end joining system from Mycobacterium smegmatis.

PMID 28257845


Accompanied with the internal non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) system, Cas9 can be used to easily inactivate a gene or delete a fragment through introduction of DNA double-stranded breaks (DSBs) in eukaryotic cells. While in most prokaryotes (e.g. Escherichia coli), due to the lack of NHEJ, homologous recombination (HR) is required for repair of DSBs, which is less convenient. Here, a markerless system was developed for rapid gene inactivation or fragment deletion in E.xa0coli via introduction of both Cas9 and a bacterial NHEJ system. Three bacterial NHEJ systems, i.e. Mycobacterium smegmatis (Msm), Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) and Bacillus subtilis (Bs), were tested in E.xa0coli, and the MsmNHEJ system showed the best efficiency. With the employment of Cas9 and MsmNHEJ, we efficiently mutated lacZ gene, deleted glnALG operon and two large DNA fragments (67xa0kb and 123xa0kb) in E.xa0coli, respectively. Moreover, the system was further designed to allow for continuous inactivation of genes or deletion of DNA fragments in E.xa0coli. We envision this system can be extended to other bacteria, especially those with low HR efficiency.