How many degenerate sites are allowed in a 25-mer present at a total concentration of 1 micromolar (100 pmoles/100 mL)?

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Answer

Primer mixtures with 256-fold and 32-fold degeneracies have been used [see Mack DH, Sninsky JJ (1988) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 85:6977-6981 and Lee et al. (1988) Science 239:1288-1291.] We recommend that users synthesize pools of no more than 32- to 64-fold degenerate primers, making additional pools separately to account for all possible degeneracy. A matrix should be set up so that degeneracy is no more than 2-fold at each site, with all sites in the matrix run at the same time. Inosine may also be used for the degenerate positions in the primer. Performing touchdown PCR may help increase the specificity of degenerate primer PCR amplification.

Answer Id: E1103

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How can I tell whether or not a reagent bottle is pressurizing correctly when using the Procise™ System?

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You can backflush the bottle's pickup line in manual control (there is a specific function for each bottle position on the Procise™ System) and observe its bubbling, which should slow and then stop within a short period (depending upon how full the bottle is) as it pressurizes with argon. If it continues to bubble, either the cap assembly is leaking or the pressurizing or venting valves for the bottle are.

Answer Id: E1261

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What are the recommended conditions for blunt-ended ligations?

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Generally, ligations are done in a 20 μl volume. Use a total of 100 to 1000 ng of DNA with an insert to vector ratio of 3:1. Add 1.0 units (Weiss) to the reaction. Incubate at room temperature for 4 h or overnight at 14-16°C.

Ideally, assemble several reactions with varying ratios of vector:insert (i.e. 3:1, 5:1, 10:1, 20:1, etc.) to determine the optimal ratio for ligation.

Life Technologies™ offers T4 DNA ligase at two concentrations: 1 U/μl (15224-017) and 5 U/ul (15224-041). When performing blunt or TA cloning ligations, the higher concentration of ligase is generally preferred since ligating a blunt or single base overhang requires more enzyme.

Answer Id: E2951

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If ligation/transformation reactions did not yield any colonies, or if a high number of background colonies are observed, what control reactions should be used to determine the problem?

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Several ligation controls may be necessary to identify the source of ligation problems.

Recommendations for problems with no colonies after transformation:
1. Test the transformation efficiency of the competent cells using a supercoiled vector, or the control DNA provided with Invitrogen™ competent cells. Perform a transformation reaction and plate the number of cells that is expected to generate 50-100 colonies per plate, based on the anticipated transformation efficiency of the competent cells. The expected number of colonies should be seen, indicating that the competent cells are transforming with high efficiency. The control DNA provided with Invitrogen™ competent cells is supercoiled monomer; vector DNA preparations that contain other forms will not transform as efficiently. Transformation efficiencies will be up to 10-fold lower for ligated vectors than for intact control DNA.
2. Restriction endonuclease-digested, re-ligated vector. Set up a ligation reaction using the same amount of vector DNA that is used in the experimental ligations and use it to transform competent cells. Re-ligation of vectors with cohesive ends should result in less than or equal to 50% of the number of colonies obtained with supercoiled vector DNA, indicating that the components of the ligation reaction are working; re-ligation of vectors with blunt ends should yield 10% to 20% of the number of colonies obtained with supercoiled vector DNA. This is an appropriate control only with vectors that have been digested with a single restriction endonuclease; double-digested vectors may not re-ligate because the ends are incompatible and the small DNA fragment that is released from between the two sites is sometimes lost during ethanol precipitation of the DNA.

For observation of a high number of background colonies:
1. Restriction endonuclease-digested vector. Perform a transformation with an amount of restriction enzyme-digested vector DNA equivalent to that contained in the fraction of the ligation reaction being used for the experimental transformations. Few or no colonies should be seen, indicating complete restriction endonuclease digestion of the vector. The presence of colonies indicates incomplete digestion of the vector that will cause a background of colonies containing non-recombinant vector in the experimental transformations.
2. Restriction endonuclease-digested, dephosphorylated, re-ligated vector. Set up a ligation reaction using the same amount of vector DNA that is used in the experimental ligations and use it to transform competent cells. Few or no colonies should be observed, indicating complete dephosphorylation of the vector - a dephosphorylated vector should not be re-ligated by T4 DNA ligase.
3.  No DNA transformation control. Perform a mock transformation of competent cells, to which no DNA is added. No colonies should be seen, indicating that the selection antibiotic on the agar plates is potent and that the competent cells are pure.

Answer Id: E4010

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What is the difference between T4 DNA ligase and E.coli DNA ligase?

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Answer

The main difference between the 2 enzymes is that E. coli DNA Ligase cannot ligate blunt dsDNA fragments. Both ligases can be used to repair single stranded nicks in duplex DNA and to perform cohesive or sticky end ligations. E. coli DNA Ligase is generally used to seal nicks during second strand cDNA synthesis, since T4 DNA Ligase could result in formation of chimeric inserts.

Answer Id: E6795

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How can I improve peak resolution between ASP and DTT or ASN when using the Procise™ System?

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Answer

You can move ASP (and GLU) away from DTT and to later retention times by reducing slightly the pH of Solvent A3. This is best accomplished by adding a small amount of TFA (R3)--about 50 to 100 ul/liter of Solvent A3. In the Procise™ System cLC, when ASP and ASN are too close together, the problem can usually be resolved by replacing the guard column (part no. 401883). Decreasing initial %B in the gradient (e.g., from 10% to 8%) will move both DTT and ASP to later retention times.

Answer Id: E1253

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I want to make peptide amides, but your amide resin has no amino acid attached. Why not? Do I need to do anything special?

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Answer

There is no amino acid attached because one is not needed. The amide linker has a free amine which is protected by an Fmoc group. Upon removal of the Fmoc group, an amide bond may be formed with the incoming activated amino acid. Nothing special needs to be done, although you must tell your synthesizer you are using an amide support and/or the first amino acid is not on the support. Standard cleavage protocols may be used.

Answer Id: E1236

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How can I tell whether or not detergent in a sample can be removed with Prosorb™ Sample Preparation Cartridges?

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Answer

If the detergent identity is known, look up its CMC (critical micellar concentration); a table of these is listed in the Biological Detergents section of the Sigma-Aldrich™ catalog. If you are above the CMC, the detergent forms micelles that cannot be removed by the filtering membrane, so the sample must be diluted prior to application to the Prosorb™ Sample Preparation Cartridges.

Answer Id: E1269

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How can I determine if my ligase is still active?

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Answer

Ligation reagents may be tested by performing a ligation reaction with a molecular size marker such as the 1 Kb DNA Ladder or lambda DNA/Hind III Fragments. Compare the ligation reaction products to unlighted DNA on an agarose gel. The ligation reaction should contain a high molecular weight smear and few low-molecular weight bands. If the marker ligation does not work, use fresh ligase.

Another reason for low activity could be degradation of the ATP in the reaction buffer; use 5X ligase buffer that is less than 24 months old. The buffer should be stored at -20°C.

Answer Id: E4011

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Why is the conductivity so high in my peptide synthesis (monitored during deprotection)?

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Answer

The meter detects any ionic species. A common cause of higher than expected values is a leak of a small amount of resin from the RV into the lines and up to the in-line filters. The use of old or poor quality piperidine or NMP may also give a high background. Standard conductivity measured in micro Siemens/cm is much higher than the sensitivity of this cell. A very small amount of ionic material caused a large change in the reading. Occasionally, Fmoc amino acids have ionic contaminants which give high readings. In-line filters may also be contaminated.

Answer Id: E1313

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What concentration of insert and vector do you recommend for most ligation reactions?

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Answer

Recommendations would vary depending on the size of the vector and insert or the nature of the insert, but for most plasmid cloning or subcloning reactions, a vector concentration of 1-10 ng/µl is recommended. Inserts should generally be 2- to 3-fold excess in molar concentration relative to the vector.

Answer Id: E4013

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How often should the sound of the vacuum assist be heard on the 433A?

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Answer

At most, once or twice a day. If more frequent, there may be a gas leak. Nitrogen pressure is used to generate the vacuum, which assists the opening of the valves. If there is no apparent gas leak, then it is possible that a valve has failed and the solvent leakage has damaged the vacuum ballast. Both the vacuum system and the valve block need inspection.

Answer Id: E1315

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What is the difference between T4 DNA Ligase and E. coli DNA Ligase?

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Answer

The main difference between the 2 enzymes is that E. coli DNA Ligase cannot ligate blunt dsDNA fragments. Both ligases can be used to repair single stranded nicks in duplex DNA and to perform cohesive or sticky end ligations. E. coli DNA Ligase is generally used to seal nicks during second strand cDNA synthesis, since T4 DNA Ligase could result in formation of chimeric inserts.

Answer Id: E7647

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Why is it necessary to dilute ligated DNA products before adding them to competent bacterial cells?

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Answer

Components of the ligation reaction (enzymes, salts) can interfere with transformation, and may reduce the number of recombinant colonies or plaques. We recommend a five-fold dilution of the ligation mix, and adding not more than 1/10 of the diluted volume to the cells. For best results, the volume added should also not exceed 10% of the volume of the competent cells that you are using.

Answer Id: E3098

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I am using the Procise™ System and have increased the final %B in the gradient to separate LYS from LEU, but now all the late PTH amino acid peaks are crushed together. What can I do?

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Answer

The PTH column is worn out; you should replace it.

Answer Id: E1255

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