We constructed strains of Bacillus subtilis which produced very low levels of extracellular proteases. These strains carried insertion or deletion mutations in the subtilisin structural gene (apr) which were constructed in vitro by using the cloned gene. The methods used to construct the mutations involved the use of a plasmid vector which allowed the selection of chromosomal integrates and their subsequent excision by homologous recombination to effect replacement of the chromosomal apr gene by a derivative carrying an inactivating insert with a selectable marker (a cat gene conferring chloramphenicol resistance). The strains produced no subtilisin, no detectable extracellular metalloprotease activity, and residual extracellular serine protease levels as low as 0.5% of that of the standard strain from which they were derived. The strains proved to be superior host strains for the production of staphylococcal protein A, accumulating higher levels of intact protein than do previously available B. subtilis strains
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