Cloning, mutagenesis and complementation of virulence factors are key steps to understand the mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis and cloning vectors are routinely utilized for these processes. We have investigated the effect of the presence of commonly used cloning vectors on the survival of the intracellular bacterial pathogen Salmonella during macrophage infection. We demonstrate that the presence of the pSC101 derived tetracycline resistance gene on plasmids causes a lower survival rate of Salmonella in macrophages. The decrease in survival caused by the presence of the tet gene was not due to a higher susceptibility to gentamicin, a growth defect, or to increased sensitivity to acid. Higher susceptibility to hydrogen peroxide was observed in vitro for strain containing plasmid with the tet gene when the strains were grown at high densities but not when they were grown at low densities. Our findings demonstrate that the use of the tet gene for mutation or complementation can have deleterious effects and should thus be carefully considered.
- Plasmid effect
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