The use of antibiotic-resistance markers for the selection of recombinant mycobacteria is widespread but questionable considering the development of live recombinant BCG vaccines. In contrast, vector-encoded resistance to heavy metals such as mercury may represent an interesting alternative for the development of live vaccines compatible with use in humans and in animals. The mercury resistance genes () from and from were cloned into the -Mycobacterium shuttle vector pRR3. The resulting vectors, designated pMR001 and pVN2, were introduced by electroporation into BCG and . The recombinant mycobacteria were stable and , and had high-level mercury resistance, thus indicating that the genes can be useful as selective markers in mycobacteria.


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