Precision Genome Engineering in Streptococcus suis Based on a Broad-Host-Range Vector and CRISPR-Cas9 Technology

Alex Gussak, Maria Laura Ferrando, Mels Schrama, Peter Van baarlen, Jerry Mark Wells*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Streptococcussuis is an important zoonotic pathogen that causes severe invasive disease in pigs and humans. Current methods for genome engineering of S. suis rely on the insertion of antibiotic resistance markers, which is time-consuming and labor-intensive and does not allow the precise introduction of small genomic mutations. Here we developed a system for CRISPR-based genome editing in S. suis, utilizing linear DNA fragments for homologous recombination (HR) and a plasmid-based negative selection system for bacteria not edited by HR. To enable the use of this system in other bacteria, we engineered a broad-host-range replicon in the CRISPR plasmid. We demonstrated the utility of this system to rapidly introduce multiple gene deletions in successive rounds of genome editing and to make precise nucleotide changes in essential genes. Furthermore, we characterized a mechanism by which S. suis can escape killing by a targeted Cas9-sgRNA complex in the absence of HR. A characteristic of this new mechanism is the presence of very slow-growing colonies in a persister-like state that may allow for DNA repair or the introduction of mutations, alleviating Cas9 pressure. This does not impact the utility of CRISPR-based genome editing because the escape colonies are easily distinguished from genetically edited clones due to their small colony size. Our CRISPR-based editing system is a valuable addition to the genetic toolbox for engineering of S. suis, as it accelerates the process of mutant construction and simplifies the removal of antibiotic markers between successive rounds of genome editing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2546-2560
JournalACS synthetic biology
Issue number9
Early online date1 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2023


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