The Bla2 β-lactamase from the live-vaccine strain of Francisella tularensis encodes a functional protein that is only active against penicillin-class β-lactam antibiotics
Francisella tularensis is a highly virulent zoonotic bacterial pathogen capable of infecting numerous different mammalian species, including humans. Elucidation of the pathogenic mechanisms of F. tularensis has been hampered by a lack of tools to genetically manipulate this organism. Herein we describe the use of transposome complexes to create insertion mutations in the chromosome of the F. tularensis live vaccine strain (LVS). A Tn5-derived transposon encoding kanamycin resistance and lacking a transposase gene was complexed with transposase enzyme and transformed directly into F. tularensis LVS by electroporation. An insertion frequency of 2.6 x 10(-8) +/- 0.87 x 10(-8) per cell was consistently achieved using this method. There are 178 described Tn5 consensus target sites distributed throughout the F. tularensis genome. Twenty-two of 26 transposon insertions analyzed were within known or predicted open reading frames, but none of these insertions was associated with the Tn5 target site. Analysis of the insertions of sequentially passed strains indicated that the transposons were maintained stably at the initial insertion site after more than 270 generations. Therefore, transformation by electroporation of Tn5-based transposon-transposase complexes provided an efficient mechanism for generating random, stable chromosomal insertion mutations in F. tularensis.