We designed a transposon insertion mutagenesis system for Methanococcus species and used it to make mutations in and around a nifH gene in Methanococcus maripaludis. The transposon Mudpur was constructed with a gene for puromycin resistance that is expressed and selectable in Methanococcus species. A 15.6-kb nifH region from M. maripaludis cloned in a lambda vector was used as a target for mutagenesis. A series of 19 independent Mudpur insertions spanning the cloned region were produced. Four mutagenized clones in and around nifH were introduced by transformation into M. maripaludis, where each was found to replace wild-type genomic DNA with the corresponding transposon-mutagenized DNA. Wild-type M. maripaludis and a transformant containing a Mudpur insertion upstream of nifH grew on N2 as a nitrogen source. Two transformants with insertions in nifH and one transformant with an insertion downstream of nifH did not grow on N2. The transposon insertion-gene replacement technique should be generally applicable in the methanococci for studying the effects of genetic manipulations in vivo
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