American Chemical Society
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Silencing Transcription from an Influenza Reverse Genetics Plasmid in E. coli Enhances Gene Stability

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-01-30, 20:36 authored by Tahir Malik, Laura Klenow, Alexandros Karyolaimos, Jan-Willem de Gier, Robert Daniels
Reverse genetics (RG) systems have been instrumental for determining the molecular aspects of viral replication, pathogenesis, and for the development of therapeutics. Here, we demonstrate that genes encoding the influenza surface antigens hemagglutinin and neuraminidase have varying stability when cloned into a common RG plasmid and transformed into Escherichia coli. Using GFP as a reporter, we demonstrate that E. coli expresses the target genes in the RG plasmid at low levels. Incorporating lac operators or a transcriptional terminator into the plasmid reduced expression and stabilized the viral genes to varying degrees. Sandwiching the viral gene between two lac operators provided the largest contribution to stability and we confirmed the stabilization is Lac repressor-dependent and crucial for subsequent plasmid propagations in E. coli. Viruses rescued from the lac operator-stabilized plasmid displayed similar kinetics and titers to the original plasmid in two different viral backbones. Together, these results indicate that silencing transcription from the plasmid in E. coli helps to maintain the correct influenza gene sequence and that the lac operator addition does not impair virus production. It is envisaged that sandwiching DNA segments between lac operators can be used for reducing DNA segment instability in any plasmid that is propagated in E. coli which express the Lac repressor.