Identification of three extra-chromosomal replicons in Leptospira pathogenic strain and development of new shuttle vectors

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Abstract

© 2014 Zhu et al.Background: The genome of pathogenic Leptospira interrogans contains two chromosomes. Plasmids and prophages are known to play specific roles in gene transfer in bacteria and can potentially serve as efficient genetic tools in these organisms. Although plasmids and prophage remnants have recently been reported in Leptospira species, their characteristics and potential applications in leptospiral genetic transformation systems have not been fully evaluated. Results: Three extrachromosomal replicons designated lcp1 (65,732 bp), lcp2 (56,757 bp), and lcp3 (54,986 bp) in the L. interrogans serovar Linhai strain 56609 were identified through whole genome sequencing. All three replicons were stable outside of the bacterial chromosomes. Phage particles were observed in the culture supernatant of 56609 after mitomycin C induction, and lcp3, which contained phage-related genes, was considered to be an inducible prophage. L. interrogans-Escherichia coli shuttle vectors, constructed with the predicted replication elements of single rep or rep combined with parAB loci from the three plasmids were shown to successfully transform into both saprophytic and pathogenic Leptospira species, suggesting an essential function for rep genes in supporting auto-replication of the plasmids. Additionally, a wide distribution of homologs of the three rep genes was identified in L. interrogans isolates, and correlation tests showed that the transformability of the shuttle vectors in L. interrogans isolates depended, to certain extent, on genetic compatibility between the rep sequences of both plasmid and host. Conclusions: Three extrachromosomal replicons co-exist in L. interrogans, one of which we consider to be an inducible prophage. The vectors constructed with the rep genes of the three replicons successfully transformed into saprophytic and pathogenic Leptospira species alike, but this was partly dependent on genetic compatibility between the rep sequences of both plasmid and host.

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Zhu, W., Wang, J., Zhu, Y., Tang, B., Zhang, Y., He, P., … Qin, J. (2015). Identification of three extra-chromosomal replicons in Leptospira pathogenic strain and development of new shuttle vectors. BMC Genomics, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12864-015-1321-y

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