Rapid screening of endonuclease target site preference using a modified bacterial two-plasmid selection.

Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.)

PubMedID: 24510263

Wolfs JM, Kleinstiver BP, Edgell DR. Rapid screening of endonuclease target site preference using a modified bacterial two-plasmid selection. Methods Mol Biol. 2014;112397-104.
Homing endonucleases and other site-specific endonucleases have potential applications in genome editing, yet efficient targeting requires a thorough understanding of DNA-sequence specificity. Here, we describe a modified two-plasmid genetic selection in Escherichia coli that allows rapid profiling of nucleotide substitutions within a target site of given endonucleases. The selection utilizes a toxic plasmid (pTox) that encodes a DNA gyrase toxin in addition to the endonuclease target site. Cleavage of the toxic plasmid by an endonuclease expressed from a second plasmid (pEndo) facilitates growth under selective conditions. The modified protocol utilizes competent cells harboring the endonuclease expression plasmid into which target site plasmids are transformed. Replica plating on nonselective and selective media plates identifies cleavable and non-cleavable targets. Thus, a library of randomized target sites, or many individual target sites, can be analyzed using a single transformation. Both cleavable and non-cleavable targets can be analyzed by DNA sequencing to gain information about nucleotide preference in the endonuclease's target site.