The art and design of genetic screens: Escherichia coli

Howard A. Shuman, Thomas J. Silhavy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


This article summarizes the general principles of selections and screens in Escherichia coli. The focus is on the lac operon, owing to its inherent simplicity and versatility. Examples of different strategies for mutagenesis and mutant discovery are described. In particular, the usefulness and effectiveness of simple colour-based screens are illustrated. The power of lac genetics can be applied to almost any bacterial system with gene fusions that hook any gene of interest to lacZ, which is the structural gene that encodes β-galactosidase. The diversity of biological processes that can be studied with lac genetics is remarkable and includes DNA metabolism, gene regulation and signal transduction, protein localization and folding, and even electron transport.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-431
Number of pages13
JournalNature Reviews Genetics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology


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