Two papers describing techniques for genome-wide genetic interaction screens in bacteria are published online in Nature Methods.
Genes do not function in isolation -- the extent to which the function of one gene depends on that of another can be very informative, and is typically studied by examining double mutants for any two genes. When carried out at genome-wide scale, with many combinations of double mutants, such an approach can yield immense insight into the biology of the organism under study.
Two independent groups present, for the first time, methods to make genome-wide double mutants in the classical model bacterium E. coli. The methods, presented by Andrew Emili, Jack Greenblatt and colleagues, and Carol Gross, Nevan Krogan and colleagues, are conceptually very similar. They both make use of perhaps the most classic method of all, bacterial sex or conjugation, in which genetic material is physically transferred between bacteria. Using robotics to allow mating of multiple mutant strains in parallel, both research groups demonstrate that precise and informative combinations of double mutants can reliably be generated genome-wide.
These methods set the stage for rapid progress in understanding the function of all genes and gene networks in E. coli as well as in other bacterial species.
Andrew Emili (University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada)
Jack Greenblatt (University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada)
Carol Gross (University of California at San Francisco, CA, USA)
Nevan Krogan (University of California at San Francisco, CA, USA)
Abstracts available online:
(C) Nature Methods press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza