Apr 13, 2020

Cas9-generated auxotrophs of Phaeodactylum tricornutum are characterized by small and large deletions that can be complemented by plasmid-based genes

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
S. S. SlatteryDavid Edgell


The model diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum is an attractive candidate for synthetic biology applications. Development of auxotrophic strains of P. tricornutum would provide alternative selective markers to commonly used antibiotic resistance genes. Here, using CRISPR/Cas9, we show successful editing of genes in the uracil, histidine, and tryptophan biosynthetic pathways. Editing events are characterized by loss of heterozygosity and by the occurrence of large deletions of up to ~2.7-kb centred on the editing site. The uracil and histidine-requiring phenotypes can be complemented by plasmid-based copies of the intact genes after curing of the Cas9-editing plasmid. Growth of uracil auxotrophs on media supplemented with 5-FOA and uracil results in loss of the complementing plasmid, providing a facile method for plasmid curing with potential applications in strain engineering and CRISPR editing. Metabolomic characterization of uracil auxotrophs revealed changes in cellular orotate concentrations consistent with partial or complete loss of orotate phosphoribosyl transferase activity in knockout strains. Our results expand the range of P. tricornutum auxotrophic strains and demonstrate that auxotrophic complementation markers provide...Continue Reading

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