A pool of synthetic oligonucleotides was prepared based on the amino terminal amino acid sequence of tetanus toxin. This probe hybridized to plasmid DNA isolated from three toxigenic strains of Clostridium tetani but not to plasmid DNA from a nontoxigenic strain. These results show that the structural gene for the toxin is on the plasmid. The pCL1 plasmid from one of the toxigenic strains spontaneously deleted 22 kilobase pairs of DNA to form pCL2. Strains harboring this deleted plasmid are nontoxigenic. However, the probe mixture hybridized to pCL2, indicating that the DNA encoding the amino terminus of the toxin had not been deleted. Restriction endonuclease cleavage maps of pCL1 and pCL2 were constructed and indicate the approximate location and orientation of the structural gene for tetanus toxin.

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