Development of a genetic system for the moderately halophilic bacterium Halobacillus halophilus: generation and characterization of mutants defect in the production of the compatible solute proline


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A procedure for markerless mutagenesis gene deletions was developed for the moderately halophilic model strain Halobacillus halophilus. Gene transfer was achieved by protoplast fusion and allelic replacement by a two-step procedure. In the first step the non-replicating plasmid integrated over the upstream or the downstream region of the target gene or operon into the chromosome to obtain single-crossover mutants. When cells were grown under non-selective conditions a second homologous recombination happened (segregation). This resulted in either the wild-type or the mutated allele. The method was used to delete the proHJA operon from H. halophilus. The mutant still produced proline and thus was not proline auxotroph but it completely lost the ability to produce proline as a compatible solute. However, growth was not impaired and the loss of the solute proline was compensated for by an increase in glutamate, glutamine and ectoine concentration. Expressions of the genes encoding the biosynthesis enzymes of theses solutes were upregulated and the activity of the key enzyme in glutamine biosynthesis, the glutamine synthetase, was increased. A model for the proline biosynthesis in the ΔproHJA mutant is discussed.