Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

Mu in vitro Transposition Technology in Functional Genetics and Genomics: Applications on Mouse and Bacteriophages

Heikki Vilen

Doctoral dissertation, May 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Biosciences, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Institute of Biotechnology and Helsinki Graduate School in Biotechnology and Molecular Biology.

Transposons are mobile elements of genetic material that are able to move in the genomes of their host organisms using a special form of recombination called transposition. Bacteriophage Mu was the first transposon for which a cell-free in vitro transposition reaction was developed. Subsequently, the reaction has been refined and the minimal Mu in vitro reaction is useful in the generation of comprehensive libraries of mutant DNA molecules that can be used in a variety of applications. To date, the functional genetics applications of Mu in vitro technology have been subjected to either plasmids or genomic regions and entire genomes of viruses cloned on specific vectors.

This study expands the use of Mu in vitro transposition in functional genetics and genomics by describing novel methods applicable to the targeted transgenesis of mouse and the whole-genome analysis of bacteriophages. The methods described here are rapid, efficient, and easily applicable to a wide variety of organisms, demonstrating the potential of the Mu transposition technology in the functional analysis of genes and genomes.

First, an easy-to-use, rapid strategy to generate construct for the targeted mutagenesis of mouse genes was developed. To test the strategy, a gene encoding a neuronal K+/Cl- cotransporter was mutagenised. After a highly efficient transpositional mutagenesis, the gene fragments mutagenised were cloned into a vector backbone and transferred into bacterial cells. These constructs were screened with PCR using an effective 3D matrix system. In addition to traditional knock-out constructs, the method developed yields hypomorphic alleles that lead into reduced expression of the target gene in transgenic mice and have since been used in a follow-up study. Moreover, a scheme is devised to rapidly produce conditional alleles from the constructs produced.

Next, an efficient strategy for the whole-genome analysis of bacteriophages was developed based on the transpositional mutagenesis of uncloned, infective virus genomes and their subsequent transfer into susceptible host cells. Mutant viruses able to produce viable progeny were collected and their transposon integration sites determined to map genomic regions nonessential to the viral life cycle. This method, applied here to three very different bacteriophages, PRD1, ΦYeO3 12, and PM2, does not require the target genome to be cloned and is directly applicable to all DNA and RNA viruses that have infective genomes. The method developed yielded valuable novel information on the three bacteriophages studied and whole-genome data can be complemented with concomitant studies on individual genes. Moreover, end-modified transposons constructed for this study can be used to manipulate genomes devoid of suitable restriction sites.

The title page of the publication

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Last updated 18.04.2006

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