Establishing the mechanisms by which microbes interact with their environment, including eukaryotic hosts, is a major challenge that is essential for the economic utilisation of microbes and their products. Techniques for determining global gene expression profiles of microbes, such as microarray analyses, are often hampered by methodological restraints, particularly the recovery of bacterial transcripts (RNA) from complex mixtures and rapid degradation of RNA. A pioneering technology that avoids this problem is In Vivo Expression Technology (IVET). IVET is a ‘ promotertrapping ’ methodology that can be used to capture nearly all bacterial promoters (genes) upregulated during a microbeenvironment interaction. IVET is especially useful because there is virtually no limit to the type of environment used (examples to date include soil, oomycete, a host plant or animal) to select for active microbial promoters. Furthermore, IVET provides a powerful method to identify genes that are often overlooked during genomic annotation, and has proven to be a flexible technology that can provide even more information than identification of gene expression profiles. A derivative of IVET, termed resolvase-IVET (RIVET), can be used to provide spatio-temporal information about environment-specific gene expression. More recently, niche-specific genes captured during an IVET screen have been exploited to identify the regulatory mechanisms controlling their expression. Overall, IVET and its various spin-offs have proven to be a valuable and robust set of tools for analysing microbial gene expression in complex environments and providing new targets for biotechnological development.
Keywords: Bacteria, plant, animal, fitness, virulence, pathogenicity, SPyVET, RIVET
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