by Jessica C. Seeliger, Shana Topp, Kimberly M. Sogi, Mary L. Previti, Justin P. Gallivan, Carolyn R. Bertozzi
Research on the human pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) would benefit from novel tools for regulated gene expression. Here we describe the characterization and application of a synthetic riboswitch-based system, which comprises a mycobacterial promoter for transcriptional control and a riboswitch for translational control. The system was used to induce and repress heterologous protein overexpression reversibly, to create a conditional gene knockdown, and to control gene expression in a macrophage infection model. Unlike existing systems for controlling gene expression in Mtb, the riboswitch does not require the co-expression of any accessory proteins: all of the regulatory machinery is encoded by a short DNA segment directly upstream of the target gene. The inducible riboswitch platform has the potential to be a powerful general strategy for creating customized gene regulation systems in Mtb.