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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Restoration and Modification of Magnetosome Biosynthesis by Internal Gene Acquisition in a Magnetotactic Bacterium


Integration of a large-sized DNA fragment into a chromosome is an important strategy for characterization of cellular functions in microorganisms. Magnetotactic bacteria synthesize intracellular organelles comprising membrane-bound single crystalline magnetite, also referred to as magnetosomes. Magnetosomes have gained interest in both scientific and engineering sectors as they can be utilized as a material for biomedical and nanotechnological applications. Although genetic engineering of magnetosome biosynthesis mechanism has been investigated, the current method requires cumbersome gene preparation processes. Here, the chromosomal integration of a plasmid containing ≈27 magnetosome genes (≈26 kbp region) in a non-magnetic mutant of Magnetospirillum magneticum AMB-1 using a broad-host-range plasmid is shown. The genome sequencing of gene-complemented strains reveals the chromosomal integration of the plasmid with magnetosome genes at a specific site, most likely by catalysis of an endogenous transposase. Magnetosome production is successfully enhanced by integrating a variation of magnetosome gene operons in the chromosome. This chromosomal integration mechanism will allow the design of functional magnetosomes de novo and M. magneticum AMB-1 may be used as a chassis for the designed magnetosome production.

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