Promoter activity of ORF-less gene cassettes isolated from the oral metagenome
Integrons are genetic elements consisting of a functional platform for recombination and expression of gene cassettes (GCs). GCs usually carry promoter-less open reading frames (ORFs), encoding proteins with various functions including antibiotic resistance. The transcription of GCs relies mainly on a cassette promoter (PC), located upstream of an array of GCs. Some integron GCs, called ORF-less GCs, contain no identifiable ORF with a small number shown to be involved in antisense mRNA mediated gene regulation. In this study, the promoter activity of ORF-less GCs, previously recovered from the oral metagenome, was verified by cloning them upstream of a gusA reporter, proving they can function as a promoter, presumably allowing bacteria to adapt to multiple stresses within the complex physico-chemical environment of the human oral cavity. A bi-directional promoter detection system was also developed allowing direct identification of clones with promoter-containing GCs on agar plates. Novel promoter-containing GCs were identified from the human oral metagenomic DNA using this construct, called pBiDiPD. This is the first demonstration and detection of promoter activity of ORF-less GCs from Treponema bacteria and the development of an agar plate-based detection system will enable similar studies in other environments.
Source at https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-44640-2.