A Cotransformation Method To Identify a Restriction-Modification Enzyme That Reduces Conjugation Efficiency in Campylobacter jejuni

Zeng, Ximin
Wu, Zuowei
Zhang, Qijing
Zhang, Qijing
Lin, Jun
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Veterinary Microbiology and Preventive Medicine

Conjugation is an important mechanism for horizontal gene transfer in Campylobacter jejuni, the leading cause of human bacterial gastroenteritis in developed countries. However, to date, the factors that significantly influence conjugation efficiency in Campylobacter spp. are still largely unknown. Given that multiple recombinant loci could independently occur within one recipient cell during natural transformation, the genetic materials from a high-frequency conjugation (HFC) C. jejuni strain may be cotransformed with a selection marker into a low-frequency conjugation (LFC) recipient strain, creating new HFC transformants suitable for the identification of conjugation factors using a comparative genomics approach. To test this, an erythromycin resistance selection marker was created in an HFC C. jejuni strain; subsequently, the DNA of this strain was naturally transformed into NCTC 11168, an LFC C. jejuni strain, leading to the isolation of NCTC 11168-derived HFC transformants. Whole-genome sequencing analysis and subsequent site-directed mutagenesis identified Cj1051c, a putative restriction-modification enzyme (aka CjeI) that could drastically reduce the conjugation efficiency of NCTC 11168 (>5,000-fold). Chromosomal complementation of three diverse HFC C. jejuni strains with CjeI also led to a dramatic reduction in conjugation efficiency (∼1,000-fold). The purified recombinant CjeI could effectively digest the Escherichia coli-derived shuttle vector pRY107. The endonuclease activity of CjeI was abolished upon short heat shock treatment at 50°C, which is consistent with our previous observation that heat shock enhanced conjugation efficiency in C. jejuni. Together, in this study, we successfully developed and utilized a unique cotransformation strategy to identify a restriction-modification enzyme that significantly influences conjugation efficiency in C. jejuni.


This article is published as Zeng, Ximin, Zuowei Wu, Qijing Zhang, and Jun Lin. "A Cotransformation Method To Identify a Restriction-Modification Enzyme That Reduces Conjugation Efficiency in Campylobacter jejuni." Applied and Environmental Microbiology 84, no. 23 (2018): e02004-18. DOI: 10.1128/AEM.02004-18. Posted with permission.