The stable maintenance and expression of foreign genes in mollicutes (mycoplasmas) have been difficult to achieve due to the lack of suitable vectors. In this paper we show for the first time that a replicating vector can been used to express foreign genes other than antibiotic resistance genes in . Plasmids derived from the lactococcal vector pNZ18 could introduce and maintain four different genes for many generations in . One of these, encoding the dominant membrane lipoprotein spiralin from the mollicute , was expressed; however, expression was weak, the signal peptide of spiralin was not cleaved and the protein was not covalently modified by fatty acids. This resulted in a hydrophilic character of spiralin and its cytoplasmic localization in . To increase the expression of foreign genes, random DNA fragments were cloned into a pNZ18-related plasmid and expression signals were selected using the α-amylase gene as a probe. Selection was done in as well as directly in . Active recombinants from were also able to express α-amylase activities and an enzyme of native size in . The highest activity was obtained from a recombinant selected directly in . This is the first example of a promoter sequence selected in a mollicute. Analysis of the putative promoters in seven clones revealed similar −10 and −35 regions, and similar spacer distances in and . Vectors related to pNZ18 should be useful for the genetic analysis of specific proteins and functions.


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