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  1. Abstract

    Bacteriophages constitute an invaluable biological reservoir for biotechnology and medicine. The ability to exploit such vast resources is hampered by the lack of methods to rapidly engineer, assemble, package genomes, and select phages. Cell-free transcription-translation (TXTL) offers experimental settings to address such a limitation. Here, we describe PHage Engineering by In vitro Gene Expression and Selection (PHEIGES) using T7 phage genome and Escherichia coli TXTL. Phage genomes are assembled in vitro from PCR-amplified fragments and directly expressed in batch TXTL reactions to produce up to 1011PFU/ml engineered phages within one day. We further demonstrate a significant genotype-phenotype linkage of phage assembly in bulk TXTL. This enables rapid selection of phages with altered rough lipopolysaccharides specificity from phage genomes incorporating tail fiber mutant libraries. We establish the scalability of PHEIGES by one pot assembly of such mutants with fluorescent gene integration and 10% length-reduced genome.

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  2. Abstract Aims

    To determine if the bacteriophage abortive infection system ToxIN is present in foodborne Salmonella and if it protects against infection by bacteriophages specific to enteric bacteria.

    Methods and results

    A set of foodborne Salmonella enteritidis isolates from a 2010 eggshell outbreak was identified via BLASTN (basic local alignment search tool nucleotide) queries as harboring a close homolog of ToxIN, carried on a plasmid with putative mobilization proteins. This homolog was cloned into a plasmid vector and transformed into the laboratory strain Salmonella typhimurium LT2 and tested against a set of Salmonella-specific phages (FelixO1, S16, Sp6, LPST153, and P22 HT105/1 int-201). ToxIN reduced infection by FelixO1, S16, and LPST153 by ∼1–4 log PFU ml−1 while reducing the plaque size of Sp6. When present in LT2 and Escherichia coli MG1655, ToxIN conferred cross-genus protection against phage isolates, which infect both bacteria. Finally, the putative ToxIN plasmid was found in whole-genome sequence contigs of several Salmonella serovars, pathogenic E. coli, and other pathogenic enterobacteria.


    Salmonella and E. coli can resist infection by several phages via ToxIN under laboratory conditions; ToxIN is present in foodborne pathogens including Salmonella and Shiga-toxigenic E. coli.

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    Abstract The new generation of cell-free gene expression systems enables the prototyping and engineering of biological systems in vitro over a remarkable scope of applications and physical scales. As the utilization of DNA-directed in vitro protein synthesis expands in scope, developing more powerful cell-free transcription–translation (TXTL) platforms remains a major goal to either execute larger DNA programs or improve cell-free biomanufacturing capabilities. In this work, we report the capabilities of the all-E. coli TXTL toolbox 3.0, a multipurpose cell-free expression system specifically developed for synthetic biology. In non-fed batch-mode reactions, the synthesis of the fluorescent reporter protein eGFP (enhanced green fluorescent protein) reaches 4 mg/ml. In synthetic cells, consisting of liposomes loaded with a TXTL reaction, eGFP is produced at concentrations of >8 mg/ml when the chemical building blocks feeding the reaction diffuse through membrane channels to facilitate exchanges with the outer solution. The bacteriophage T7, encoded by a genome of 40 kb and ∼60 genes, is produced at a concentration of 1013 PFU/ml (plaque forming unit/ml). This TXTL system extends the current cell-free expression capabilities by offering unique strength and properties, for testing regulatory elements and circuits, biomanufacturing biologics or building synthetic cells. 
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    Liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) is important to control a wide range of reactions from gene expression to protein degradation in a cell-sized space. To bring a better understanding of the compatibility of such phase-separated structures with protein synthesis, we study emergent LLPS in a cell-free transcription-translation (TXTL) reaction. When the TXTL reaction composed of many proteins is concentrated, the uniformly mixed state becomes unstable, and membrane-less phases form spontaneously. This LLPS droplet formation is induced when the TXTL reaction is enclosed in water-in-oil emulsion droplets, in which water evaporates from the surface. As the emulsion droplets shrink, smaller LLPS droplets appear inside the emulsion droplets and coalesce into large phase-separated domains that partition the localization of synthesized reporter proteins. The presence of PEG in the TXTL reaction is important not only for versatile cell-free protein synthesis but also for the formation of two large domains capable of protein partitioning. Our results may shed light on the dynamic interplay of LLPS formation and cell-free protein synthesis toward the construction of synthetic organelles. 
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