Friday, March 16, 2007

Topo cloning is dead!

This post is for the molecular biologists out there (though I'll try to tone it down so anyone can appreciate the significance).

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed Research
In the 1970s, the discovery of restriction enzymes made it possible to move pieces of DNA between species. This was the hallmark event that allowed modern molecular biology to flourish. The combination of restriction enzymes with ligase allows the cutting and pasting of DNA from multiple sources into a single vector. But as any graduate student or post-doc will tell you, these seemingly trivial manipulations can be a major pain in the ass. On good days, cloning (the term we use for moving bits of DNA around) is a good way to make you feel like you're being successful in the lab. On bad days, making a single construct can take weeks or months.

No more. Steve Elledge has published a new technique for cloning that allows simple movement of DNA into a new vector without the use of ligase. His method, published here in Nature Methods, allows easy manipulation of any piece of DNA into any vector. The required amounts of DNA are at least 10 fold lower than any equivalent method with ligase (he uses only 2-3 ng of DNA) but he can also assemble 10-pieces of DNA simultaneously, and get 25% of the resulting products being correct! This is a revolutionary step forward. You heard it here first: Topo cloning is dead. T4 DNA ligase sales will plummet. DNA 2.0's services will become much cheaper, or they will go out of business. And the lives of molecular biologists everywhere just became much, much easier.

I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. This is a second revolution in cloning technology.


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