Transfer and maintenance of small, mobilizable plasmids with ColE1 replication origins in Legionella pneumophila

N. Cary Engleberg*, Nicholas Cianciotto, Jean Smith, Barry I. Eisenstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


With the mutagenesis of specific, virulence-associated genes of Legionella pneumophila as the eventual goal, methods for gene transfer to these bacteria were developed. Following the observations of others that conjugative, broad-host-range plasmids could be transferred from Escherichia coli to L. pneumophila at low frequency, we constructed a small mobilizable vector, pTLP1, which carries oriV from pBR322, oriT from pRK2, Kmr from Tn5, and an L. pneumophila-derived fragment to permit chromosomal integration. In triparental matings including an E. coli with a conjugative (Tra+) helper plasmid, kanamycin-resistance was transferred from E. coli to L. pneumophila. Southern hybridization of L. pneumophila transconjugants showed that pTLP1 was replicated autonomously. Additional matings of plasmids having deletions or substitutions of pTLP1 sequences confirmed that replication in L. pneumophila requires oriV only. pTLP1 was maintained in L. pneumophila with passage on medium containing kanamycin but was rapidly lost after passage on nonselective medium. This plasmid instability in L. pneumophila is most likely due to rapid generation of plasmid-free segregants because of plasmid multimerization and low plasmid copy number. We conclude that mobilizable pBR322-derived plasmids can be used as shuttle vectors to transfer cloned genes to L. pneumophila, a feature that can be exploited for the purposes of mutagenesis or genetic complementation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-91
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology


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