We have developed a series of shuttle vectors based on the conjugative transposon Tn916 that have been designed for the analysis of transcriptional regulation in Streptococcus pyogenes and other gram-positive bacteria. Designated the pVIT vectors (vectors for integration into Tn916), the vectors are small, stable plasmids in Escherichia coli to facilitate the fusion of promoters from cloned S. pyogenes genes to a promoterless gene which encodes chloramphenicol acetyltransferase. The vectors each contain one or more small regions of Tn916 to direct the integration of the transcriptional fusion into the transposon via homologous recombination following transformation of S. pyogenes or other suitable gram-positive hosts. Integration can be monitored by the inactivation or replacement of an antibiotic resistance determinant in modified derivatives of Tn916. Promoter activity can then be quantitated by the determination of chloramphenicol acetyltransferase-specific activity. In addition, since integration is into loci that do not disrupt the conjugative transpositional functions of Tn916, the vectors are useful for analysis of regulation in strains that are difficult or impossible to transform and can be introduced into these strains by conjugation following transformation of an intermediate host. The promoters for the genes which encode both the M protein and protein F of S. pyogenes were active in pVIT vectors, as was the region which controls transcription of mry, a trans-acting positive regulator of M protein expression. However, neither of the two characterized promoters for mry demonstrated activity when independently analyzed in pVIT-generated partial diploid strains, suggesting that regulation of mry is more complex than predicted by current models. The broad host range of Tn916 should make the pVIT vectors useful for analysis of regulation in numerous other bacterial species
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