Strategies to identify and edit improvements in synthetic genome segments episomallyAlexandra Rudolph, Akos Nyerges, Anush Chiappino-Pepe, Matthieu Landon, Maximilien Baas-Thomas, George Church
Genome engineering projects often utilize bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) to carry multi-kilobase DNA segments at low copy number. However, all stages of whole-genome engineering have the potential to impose mutations on the synthetic genome that can reduce or eliminate the fitness of the final strain. Here, we describe improvements to a multiplex automated genome engineering (MAGE) protocol to improve recombineering frequency and multiplexability. This protocol was applied to recoding an Escherichia coli strain to replace seven codons with synonymous alternatives genome wide. Ten 44 402–47 179 bp de novo synthesized DNA segments contained in a BAC from the recoded strain were unable to complement deletion of the corresponding 33–61 wild-type genes using a single antibiotic resistance marker. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) was used to identify 1–7 non-recoding mutations in essential genes per segment, and MAGE in turn proved a useful strategy to repair these mutations on the recoded segment contained in the BAC when both the recoded and wild-type copies of the mutated genes had to exist by necessity during the repair process. Finally, two web-based tools were used to predict the impact of a subset of non-recoding missense mutations on strain fitness using protein structure and function calls.