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Recombinant DNA Technology
Isolating DNA • Chemically, DNA is a very simple compound, with little variation
between species. • The basic steps:
1. Break the cells open 2. Disrupt cell membranes with a detergent 3. Remove proteins and other macromolecules 4. Concentrate the DNA by precipitating it and re-suspending it in
fresh buffer. • Methods for breaking the cells open vary between species, but
usually involve mechanical disruption in a buffer that inhibits DNAases.
• If the cell extract is mixed with a phenol/chloroform solution, most of the proteins and other cellular junk goes into the phenol/chloroform layer while the DNA and RNA stay in the aqueous phase.
– Phenol is very nasty, and many methods have been invented to get around this step.
• DNA can be precipitated using ethanol, and then resuspended in a buffer containing EDTA, which chelates (removes from solution) Mg2+ ions. This is useful because all DNA-degrading enzymes use Mg2+ ions as a co-factor.
Electrophoresis • Separation of charged molecules
in an electric field. • Nucleic acids have 1 charged
phosphate (- charge) per nucleotide. This implies a constant charge to mass ratio. Thus, separation is based almost entirely on length: longer molecules move slower.
• Done in a gel matrix to stabilize: agarose or acrylamide.
• average run: 100 Volts across a 10 cm gel, run for 2 hours.
• Stain with ethidium bromide: intercalates between DNA bases and fluoresces orange.
• Run alongside standards of known sizes to get lengths
RNA • Gene expression is studied using RNA.
However, RNA has two annoying properties:
– it is very easily degraded. A desirable property in the cell: allows rapid response to environmental changes
– It usually has a lot of secondary structure. This means that migration speed in electrophoresis is not proportional to length. The same problem occurs with proteins.
• For direct analysis of RNA, denaturing agents such as formaldehyde or methyl mercury hydroxide (very toxic) are used.
• For sequence analysis, RNA is first converted to DNA (called cDNA).
cDNA Synthesis •use oligo-dT primer, which binds to poly-A tail. •You can also use random primers (short oligonucleotides that bind to random locations on the mRNA). •make the first DNA strand from the RNA using reverse transcriptase
More cDNA Synthesis •Remove the RNA with heat or alkali. •The 3’ end spontaneously forms a small hairpin. •Extend the hairpin with DNA polymerase •Cut the loop with S1 nuclease (which cuts at unpaired bases) •Attach synthetic linkers with DNA ligase and clone into a vector.
Expressed Sequence Tags • ESTs are cDNA clones that have has a single round of sequencing
done from one end. • First extract mRNA from a given tissue and/or environmental
condition. Then convert it to cDNA and clone. • Sequence thousands of EST clones and save the results in a
database. • A search can then show whether your sequence was expressed in
that tissue. – quantitation issues: some mRNAs are present in much higher
concentration than others. Many EST libraries are “normalized” by removing duplicate sequences.
• Also can get data on transcription start sites and exon/intron boundaries by comparing to genomic DNA – but sometimes need to obtain the clone and sequence the rest of it
Finding Genes • How to find one gene in large genome? A gene
might be 1/1,000,000 of the genome. Three basic approaches:
• 1. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Make many copies of a specific region of the DNA.
• 2. cell-based molecular cloning: create and isolate a bacterial strain that replicates a copy of your gene.
• 3. hybridization: make DNA single stranded, allow double strands to re-form using a labeled (e.g. radioactive) version of your gene to make it easy to detect.
Polymerase Chain Reaction • Based on DNA polymerase creating a second strand of DNA.
– Needs template DNA and two primers that flank the region to be amplified. Primers are short (generally 18-30 bases) DNA oligonucleotides complementary to the ends of the region being amplified.
– DNA polymerase adds new bases to the 3' ends of the primers to create the new second strand.
– go from 1 DNA to 2, then 4, 8, etc: exponential growth of DNA from this region
– A key element in PCR is a special form of DNA polymerase from Thermusaquaticus, a bacterium that lives in nearly boiling water in the Yellowstone National Park hot springs. This enzyme, Taq polymerase, can withstand the temperature cycle of PCR, which would kill DNA polymerase from E. coli.
• advantages: – rapid, sensitive, lots of useful variations, robust (works even with partly
degraded DNA) • disadvantages:
– Only short regions (up to 2 kbp) can be amplified. – limited amount of product made
PCR Cycle • PCR is based on a cycle of 3
steps that occur at different temperatures. Each cycle doubles the number of DNA molecules: 25-35 cycles produces enough DNA to see on an electrophoresis gel. Each step takes about 1 minute to complete.
• 1. Denaturation: make the DNA single stranded by heating to 94oC
• 2. Annealing: hybridize the primers to the single strands. Temperature varies with primer, around 50oC
• 3. Extension: build the second strands with DNA polymerase and dNTPs: 72oC.
Other PCR Images
Real Time PCR • Used to quantitate gene
expression: • First, convert all mRNA in a
sample to single stranded cDNA using reverse transcriptase,
• Then, amplify the region of interest using specific primers.
• Use a fluorescent probe to detect and quantitate the specific product as it is being made by the PCR reaction. – the two components of the
fluorescent tag interact to quench each other. When one part is removed by the Taq polymerase, the quenching stops and fluorescence can be detected.
– Like most DNA polymerases, Taq polymerase also has a 5’ to 3’ exonuclease activity.
Allele-Specific PCR • For base change
mutations (single nucleotide polymorphisms).
• Use a primer whose 3’ base matches the mutation. Will amplify one allele but not the other because the 3’ end is not paired with the template in the wrong allele.
SSR Genetic Markers • . Microsatellites (Simple Sequence Repeats: SSRs). Used for mapping the human
genome--the main marker system used today. • SSRs are short (2-5 bases) sequences that are repeated several times in tandem:
TGTGTGTGTGTG is 6 tandem repeats of TG. • SSRs are found in and near many genes throughout the genome--they are quite
common and easy to find. • During normal replication of the DNA in the nucleus, DNA polymerase sometimes
slips and creates extra copies or deletes a few copies of the repeat. • This happens rarely enough that most people inherit the same number of repeats that
their parents had (i.e. SSRs are stable genetic markers), but often enough that numerous variant alleles exist in the population.
• Mapping SSRs is a matter of having PCR primers that flank the repeat region, then examining the PCR products on an electrophoresis gel and counting the number of repeats.
• SSRs are co-dominant markers: both alleles can be detected in a heterozygote.
• If an SSR is a 3 base repeat within the coding region of a gene, it will create a tandem array of some amino acid. Certain genetic diseases, most notably Huntington's Disease, are caused by an increase in the number of repeats: once the number gets high enough the protein functions abnormally, causing neural degeneration. Such SSRs are called "tri-nucleotide repeats" or TNRs.
Cell-Based Molecular Cloning • The original recombinant DNA technique: 1974 by Cohen and
Boyer. • Several key players: • 1. restriction enzymes. Cut DNA at specific sequences. e.g.
EcoR1 cuts at GAATTC and BamH1 cuts at GGATCC. – Used by bacteria to destroy invading DNA: their own DNA has been
modified (methylated) at the corresponding sequences by a methylase. • 2. Plasmids: independently replicating DNA circles (only circles
replicate in bacteria). Foreign DNA can be inserted into a plasmid and replicated. – Plasmids for cloning carry drug resistance genes that are used for
selection. – Spread antibiotic resistance genes between bacterial species
• 3. DNA ligase. Attaches 2 pieces of DNA together. • 4. transformation: DNA manipulated in vitro can be put back
into the living cells by a simple process . – The transformed DNA replicates and expresses its genes.
Plasmid Vectors • To replicate, a plasmid must be
circular, and it must contain a replicon, a DNA sequence that DNA polymerase will bind to and initiate replication. Also called “ori” (origin of replication).
– Replicons are usually species-specific. – Some replicons allow many copies of
the plasmid in a cell, while others limit the copy number or one or two.
• Plasmid cloning vectors must also carry a selectable marker: drug resistance. Transformation is inefficient, so bacteria that aren’t transformed must be killed.
• Most cloning vectors have a multiple cloning site, a short region of DNA containing many restriction sites close together (also called a polylinker). This allows many different restriction enzymes to be used.
• Most cloning vectors use a system for detecting the presence of a recombinant insert, usually the blue/white beta-galactosidase system. Docsity.com
Basic Cloning Process
•Plasmid is cut open with a restriction enzyme that leaves an overhang: a sticky end •Foreign DNA is cut with the same enzyme. •The two DNAs are mixed. The sticky ends anneal together, and DNA ligase joins them into one recombinant molecule. •The recombinant plasmids are transformed into E. coli using heat plus calcium chloride. •Cells carrying the plasmid are selected by adding an antibiotic: the plasmid carries a gene for antibiotic resistance.
DNA Ligase in Action! I hope
Cloning Vector Types
• For different sizes of DNA: – plasmids: up to 5 kb – phage lambda (λ) vectors (also cosmids): up
to 50 kb – BAC (bacterial artificial chromosome): 300 kb – YAC (yeast artificial chromosome): 2000 kb
• Expression vectors: make RNA and protein from the inserted DNA – shuttle vectors: can grow in two different
species, usually E. coli and something else
Hybridization • The idea is that if DNA is made single stranded
(melted), it will pair up with another DNA (or RNA) with the complementary sequence. If one of the DNA molecules is labeled, you can detect the hybridization.
• Basic applications: – Southern blot: DNA digested by a restriction enzyme
then separated on an electrophoresis gel – Northern blot: uses RNA on the gel instead of DNA – in situ hybridization: probing a tissue – colony hybridization: detection of clones – microarrays
Labeling • Several methods. One is
random primers labeling: – use 32P-labeled dNTPs – short random oligonucleotides
as primers (made synthetically)
– single stranded DNA template (made by melting double stranded DNA by boiling it)
– DNA polymerase copies the DNA template, making a new strand that incorporates the label.
• Can also label RNA (sometimes called riboprobes), use non-radioactive labels (often a small molecule that labeled antibodies bind to, or a fluorescent tag), use other labeling methods.
Hybridization Process • All the DNA must be single stranded
(melt at high temp or with NaOH). Occurs in a high salt solution at say 60oC. Complementary DNAs find each other and stick. Need to wash off non- specific binding.
• Stringency: how perfectly do the DNA strands have to match in order to stick together? Less than perfect matches will occur at lower stringency (e.g. between species). Increase stringency by increasing temp and decreasing salt concentration.
• Rate of hybridization depends on DNA concentration and time (Cot), as well as GC content and DNA strand length.
• Autoradiography. Put the labeled DNA next to X-ray film; the radiation fogs the film.
Southern Blot • Used to detect a specific DNA
sequence in a complex mixture, such as genomic DNA
• Cut DNA with restriction enzyme, then run on an electrophoresis gel.
• Suck buffer through the gel into a nitrocellulose membrane. The buffer goes through but the DNA sticks to the membrane.
• Fix the DNA to the membrane permanently with UV or heat
• Hybridize membrane to a radioactive probe, then detect specific bands with autoradiography.
• Northern blot uses RNA instead. RNA must be denatured so the distance it migrates on the gel is proportional to its length: put formaldehyde in the gel.
In Situ Hybridization • Using tissues or tissue
sections. • Often done with non-
radioactive probes because the high energy of 32P emission gives an imprecise view of where the hybridization is.
• Counterstain the tissue so non-hybridizing parts are visible.