A New Method for the Construction of Translationally Coupled Operons in a Bacterial Chromosome

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A new method for the construction of translationally coupled operons in a bacterial chromosome was developed on the basis of the recombineering approach. The method includes the in vitro construction of an artificial operon with an efficiently translated proximal cistron, its insertion into the Escherichia coli chromosome, the modification of the operon via Red-driven insertion of a special “Junction” with an excisable selective marker into the intercistronic region of the initial operon, and the excision of the marker. The Junction structure was designed and tested. The Junction consists of three components. The first component is the E. coli rplC-rplD intercistronic region and serves for placing the TAA codon of the proximal gene in the SD sequence (TAAGGAG) of rplD. The second component is the CmR gene flanked by λattL/R sites in such a fashion that the residual λattB site after λInt/Xis-driven excision of the marker does not contain termination codons in frame with ATG of rplD. The third component is the E. coli trpE-trpD intercistronic region which is added so that TGA of trpE acts a termination codon of the new open reading frame (ORF), while the overlapping (TGATG) ATG of trpD is in the position of the initiation codon of the distal gene of the original operon. The general design of the Junction provides the conversion of the original two-cistron operon into a three-cistron operon with translationally coupled genes, where the coupling of the artificial ORF (rplD'-λattB-'trpE) with the proximal gene is due to the rplC-rplD intercistronic region and its coupling with the distal gene is due to trpE-trpD. The strategy was experimentally implemented to construct an artificial operon Ptac-aroG4-serA5, where the expression the distal serA5 gene was optimized owing to translational coupling in a three-cistron operon.

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