Screening a wide host-range, waste-water metagenomic library in tryptophan auxotrophs of Rhizobium leguminosarum and of Escherichia coli reveals different classes of cloned trp genes

Youguo Li, Margaret Wexler, David J. Richardson, Philip L. Bond, Andrew W. B. Johnston

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A metagenomic cosmid library was constructed, in which the insert DNA was derived from bacteria in a waste-water treatment plant and the vector was the wide host-range cosmid pLAFR3. The library was screened for clones that could correct defined tryptophan auxotrophs of the α-proteobacterium Rhizobium leguminosarum and of Escherichia coli. A total of 26 different cosmids that corrected at least one trp mutant in one or both of these species were obtained. Several cosmids corrected the auxotrophy of one or more R. leguminosarum trp mutants, but not the corresponding mutants in E. coli. Conversely, one cosmid corrected trpA, B, C, D and E mutants of E. coli but none of the trp mutants of R. leguminosarum. Two of the Trp+ cosmids were examined in more detail. One contained a trp operon that resembled that of the pathogen Chlamydophila caviae, containing the unusual kynU gene, which specifies kynureninase. The other, whose trp genes functioned in R. leguminosarum but not in E. coli, contained trpDCFBA in an operon that is likely co-transcribed with five other genes, most of which had no known link with tryptophan synthesis. The sequences of these TRP proteins, and the products of nine other genes encoded by this cosmid, failed to affiliate them with any known bacterial lineage. For one metagenomic cosmid, lac reporter fusions confirmed that its cloned trp genes were transcribed in R. leguminosarum, but not in E. coli. Thus, rhizobia, with their many σ-factors, may be well-suited hosts for metagenomic libraries, cloned in wide host-range vectors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1927-1936
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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