Date: August 2001
Creator: Williamson, Phillip C.
Description: Natural transformation is the process by which cells take up DNA from the surrounding medium under physiological conditions, altering the genotype in a heritable fashion. This occurs without chemical or physical treatment of the cells. Certain Acinetobacter strains exhibit a strong tendency to incorporate homologous DNA into their chromosomes by natural transformation. Transformation in Acinetobacter exhibits several unique properties that indicate this system's superiority as a model for transformation studies or studies which benefit from the use of transformation as an experimental method of gene manipulation. Pseudomonas putida is the natural host of TOL plasmids, ranging between 50 kbp and 300 kbp in size and encoding genes for the catabolism of toluene, meta-toluate, and xylene. These very large, single-copy plasmids are difficult to isolate, manipulate, or modify in vitro. In this study, the TOL plasmid pDKR1 was introduced into Acinetobacter calcoaceticus strains and genetically engineered utilizing natural transformation as part of the process. Following engineering by transformation, the recombinant DNA molecule was returned to the native genetic background of the original host P. putida strain. Specific parameters for the successful manipulation of large plasmids by natural transformation in Acinetobacter were identified and are outlined. The effects of growth phase, total ...
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