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Site-directed Mutagenesis using PCR

Michael P. Weiner, Tim Gackstetter, Gina L. Costa, John C. Bauer, and Keith A. Kretz

From: Molecular Biology: Current Innovations and Future Trends. Eds. A.M. Griffin and H.G.Griffin. ISBN 1-898486-01-8 1995 Horizon Scientific Press, PO Box 1, Wymondham, Norfolk, U.K.

In vitro site-directed mutagenesis is an invaluable technique for studying protein structure-function relationships, gene expression and vector modification. Several methods have appeared in the literature, but many of these methods require single-stranded DNA as the template. The reason for this, historically, has been the need for separating the complementary strands to prevent reannealing. Use of PCR in site-directed mutagenesis accomplishes strand separation by using a denaturing step to separate the complementing strands and allowing efficient polymerization of the PCR primers. PCR site-directed methods thus allow site-specific mutations to be incorporated in virtually any double-stranded plasmid; eliminating the need for M13-based vectors or single-stranded rescue.

Several points should be mentioned concerning site-directed mutagenesis using PCR. First, it is often desirable to reduce the number of cycles during PCR when performing PCR-based site-directed mutagenesis to prevent clonal expansion of any (undesired) second-site mutations. Limited cycling which would result in reduced product yield, is offset by increasing the starting template concentration. Second, a selection must be used to reduce the number of parental molecules coming through the reaction. Third, in order to use a single PCR primer set, it is desirable to optimize the long PCR method. And fourth, because of the extendase activity of some thermostable polymerases it is often necessary to incorporate an end-polishing step into the procedure prior to end-to-end ligation of the PCR-generated product containing the incorporated mutations in one or both PCR primers.

A protocol is provided as a facile method for site-directed mutagenesis and accomplishes the above desired features by the incorporation of the following steps: (i) increasing template concentration approximately 1000-fold over conventional PCR conditions; (ii) reducing the number of cycles from 25-30 to 5-10; (iii) adding the restriction endonuclease DpnI (recognition target sequence: 5-Gm6ATC-3, where the A residue is methylated) to select against parental DNA (note: DNA isolated from almost all common strains of E. coli is Dam-methylated at the sequence 5-GATC-3); (iv) using Taq Extender in the PCR mix for increased reliability for PCR to 10 kb; (v) using Pfu DNA polymerase to polish the ends of the PCR product, and (vi) efficient intramolecular ligation in the presence of T4 DNA ligase.

Protocol. PCR-based Site Directed Mutagenesis

Note: This protocol is from volume 1 in the Current Innovations in Molecular Biology series. For more information email Hugh.Griffin@BBSRC.AC.UK.