Overcoming restriction as a barrier to DNA transformation in Caldicellulosiruptor species results in efficient marker replacement
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Abstract Background Thermophilic microorganisms have special advantages for the conversion of plant biomass to fuels and chemicals. Members of the genus Caldicellulosiruptor are the most thermophilic cellulolytic bacteria known. They have the ability to grow on a variety of non-pretreated biomass substrates at or near ~80°C and hold promise for converting biomass to bioproducts in a single step. As for all such relatively uncharacterized organisms with desirable traits, the ability to genetically manipulate them is a prerequisite for making them useful. Metabolic engineering of pathways for product synthesis is relatively simple compared to engineering the ability to utilize non-pretreated biomass. Results Here we report the construction of a deletion of cbeI (Cbes2438), which encodes a restriction endonuclease that is as a major barrier to DNA transformation of C. bescii. This is the first example of a targeted chromosomal deletion generated by homologous recombination in this genus and the resulting mutant, JWCB018 (ΔpyrFA ΔcbeI), is readily transformed by DNA isolated from E. coli without in vitro methylation. PCR amplification and sequencing suggested that this deletion left the adjacent methyltransferase (Cbes2437) intact. This was confirmed by the fact that DNA isolated from JWCB018 was protected from digestion by CbeI and HaeIII. Plasmid DNA isolated from C. hydrothermalis transformants were readily transformed into C. bescii. Digestion analysis of chromosomal DNA isolated from seven Caldicellulosiruptor species by using nine different restriction endonucleases was also performed to identify the functional restriction-modification activities in this genus. Conclusion Deletion of the cbeI gene removes a substantial barrier to routine DNA transformation and chromosomal modification of C. bescii. This will facilitate the functional analyses of genes as well as metabolic engineering for the production of biofuels and bioproducts from biomass. An analysis of restriction-modification activities in members of this genus suggests a way forward to eliminating restriction as a barrier to DNA transformation and efficient genetic manipulation of this important group of hyperthermophiles.