A novel antibiotic free plasmid selection system: Advances in safe and efficient DNA therapy



The presence of antibiotic resistance genes in the delivered plasmids is one of the drawbacks of modern gene therapy and DNA vaccine applications. Here, we describe a strategy that allows for plasmid selection in bacterial hosts, without the requirement of any selection marker. Several bacterial strains were modified, so that the plasmid's replicational inhibitor RNA I could suppress the translation of a growth essential gene by RNA-RNA antisense reaction. An essential gene (murA) was modified such that a repressor protein (tetR) would hamper its expression. Only in the presence of plasmid and, hence, RNA I, was tetR turned down and murA expressed. Different commercially available plasmids could be selected by various modified Escherichia coli strains. We further designed a minimalistic plasmid devoid of any selection marker. All of the clones (n=6) examined, when the modified strain JM109-murselect was used for selection, contained plasmids. Thus, we have designed bacterial host strains that for the first time serve to select and maintain plasmids without the use of any selection marker or other additional sequence on the plasmid. Consequently, such plasmids may not only be safer, but due to their decreased size, advantages for the manufacturer and higher transfection efficiencies are anticipated.