A biphasic plasmid vector was used to introduce the Escherichia coli K-12 lac operon into the unicellular cyanobacterium Agmenellum quadruplicatum PR-6. The PR-6 transformants expressed β-galactosidase at nearly as high a level as did Escherichia coli transformants. In order to accomplish this, it was necessary to obtain PR-6 mutants that could be transformed by plasmids with unmodified recognition sites for the endogenous PR-6 restriction endonuclease Aqu I. These mutants were generated by a variation of the ectopic mutagenesis techniques that have been used in other naturally transforming bacteria. The ability to assay the expression of lacZ in PR-6 paves the way for the construction of gene fusions with various PR-6 promoters and quantitation of their expression under specific in vivo conditions.
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