When should DMSO, formamide, glycerol and other cosolvents be used in PCR?

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Cosolvents may be used when there is a failure of amplification, either because the template contains stable hairpin-loops or the region of amplification is GC-rich. Keep in mind that all of these cosolvents have the effect of lowering enzyme activity, which will decrease amplification yield. For more information see P Landre et al (1995). The use of co-solvents to enhance amplification by the polymerase chain reaction. In: PCR Strategies, edited by MA Innis, DH Gelfand, JJ Sninsky. Academic Press, San Diego, CA, pp. 3-16.

Additionally, when amplifying very long PCR fragments (greater than 5 kb) the use of cosolvents is often recommended to help compensate for the increased melting temperature of these fragments.

Answer Id: E1320

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How can I remove genomic DNA contamination from my sample prior to performing RT-PCR?

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If amplification products are generated in the control tube/well that contains no reverse transcriptase (ie., the no-RT control), it may be necessary to eliminate residual genomic DNA from the RNA sample. Use the following protocol to remove genomic DNA from the total RNA preparation.

Add the following to an autoclaved 0.5 mL microcentrifuge tube on ice:
(1) Total RNA (ideally, less than or equal to 1 μg, see Note 1)
(2) 1.0 μL of 10X DNase buffer (200 mM Tris 8.3, 500 mM KCl, 20 mM MgCl2)
(3) 0.1 U-3.0 U of DNase I (RNase-free, Cat. No. 18047-019) or 1.0 U Amplification Grade Dnase I (Cat. No. 18068-015, see Note 2)
(4) Bring volume up to 10 μL with DEPC-treated water.
(5) Incubate at room temperature for 15 min. See Note 3.
(6) Terminate the reaction by adding 1 μL 25 mM EDTA and heat 10 min at 65 degrees C. See Note 4.
(7) Place on ice for 1 minute.
(8) Collect by brief centrifugation. This mixture can be used directly for reverse transcription.

***NOTE 1: To work with higher quantities of RNA, scale up the entire reaction linearly. Do not exceed 2 μg RNA in the 10 μL reaction. More RNA will increase the viscocity of the solution and prevent the DNAse I from diffusing and finding the DNA.

***NOTE 2: Amplification Grade DNAse I has been extensively purified to remove trace ribonuclease activities commonly associated with other "RNAse-free" enzyme preparations and does not require the addition of placental RNAse inhibitor.

***NOTE 3: It is important not to exceed the 15 minute incubation time or the room temperature incubation. Higher temperatures and longer times could lead to Mg++-dependent hydrolysis of the RNA.

***NOTE 4: This procedure requires careful pipetting of all solutions so that the concentration of divalent metal cation (Mg++) is controlled.
Because the DNAse I must be heated to 65 degrees C to inactivate the enzyme, the concentration of free divalent metal ions must be low enough (less than 1 mM) after addition of the EDTA to prevent chemical hydrolysis of the RNA. See references below.
After the addition of EDTA, there is an approximately 1:1 molar ratio of Mg++ : EDTA. EDTA chelates Mg++ molecules on a 1:1 molar basis. Therefore, this RNA can be directly used in a reverse transcription reaction. First-strand reverse transcription buffers typically result in a final concentration of 2.5 mM Mg++. If the reverse transcription buffer does not contain MgCl2, add it to the reaction at a final concentration of 2.5 mM. This results in a net final concentration of approximately 2.25 to 2.5 mM MgCl2.

RNA hydrolysis references:
Molekulyarnaya Biologiya Vol 21: 1235-1241 (1987).
References on the mechanism of hyrolysis by other cations:
Eichorn, G.L. and Butzov, J. Y. Biopolymers 3:79 (1965)
Butzov, J. Y and Eichorn, G.L. Biopolymers 3:95 (1965)
Farkas, W.R. BBA 155:401 (1968)
The author of the first paper expresses the opinion that the mechanism of the non-specific hydrolysis by cations which proceeds through 2',3' cyclic phosphate formation is similar to that of specific hydrolysis such as RNA splicing.

Answer Id: E4152

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How do you recommend that I prepare my DNA for successful electroporation of E. coli?

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For best results, DNA used in electroporation must have a very low ionic strength and a high resistance. A high-salt DNA sample may be purified by either ethanol precipitation or dialysis.

The following suggested protocols are for ligation reactions of 20ul. The volumes may be adjusted to suit the amount being prepared.

Purifying DNA by Precipitation: Add 5 to 10 ug of tRNA to a 20ul ligation reaction. Adjust the solution to 2.5 M in ammonium acetate using a 7.5 M ammonium acetate stock solution. Mix well. Add two volumes of 100 % ethanol. Centrifuge at 12,000 x g for 15 min at 4C. Remove the supernatant with a micropipet. Wash the pellet with 60ul of 70% ethanol. Centrifuge at 12,000 x g for 15 min at room temperature. Remove the supernatant with a micropipet. Air dry the pellet. Resuspend the DNA in 0.5X TE buffer [5 mM Tris-HCl, 0.5 mM EDTA (pH 7.5)] to a concentration of 10 ng/ul of DNA. Use 1 ul per transformation of 20 ul of cell suspension.

Purifying DNA by Microdialysis: Float a Millipore filter, type VS 0.025 um, on a pool of 0.5X TE buffer (or 10% glycerol) in a small plastic container. Place 20ul of the DNA solution as a drop on top of the filter. Incubate at room temperature for several hours. Withdraw the DNA drop from the filter and place it in a polypropylene microcentrifuge tube. Use 1ul of this DNA for each electrotransformation reaction.

Answer Id: E4159

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