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A practical comparison of ligation-independent cloning techniques


The precise assembly of specific DNA sequences is a critical technique in molecular biology. Traditional cloning techniques use restriction enzymes and ligation of DNA in vitro, which can be hampered by a lack of appropriate restriction-sites and inefficient enzymatic steps. A number of ligation-independent cloning techniques have been developed, including polymerase incomplete primer extension (PIPE) cloning, sequence and ligation-independent cloning (SLIC), and overlap extension cloning (OEC). These strategies rely on the generation of complementary overhangs by DNA polymerase, without requiring specific restriction sites or ligation, and achieve high efficiencies in a fraction of the time at low cost. Here, we outline and optimise these techniques and identify important factors to guide cloning project design, including avoiding PCR artefacts such as primer-dimers and vector plasmid background. Experiments made use of a common reporter vector and a set of modular primers to clone DNA fragments of increasing size. Overall, PIPE achieved cloning efficiencies of approximately 95% with few manipulations, whereas SLIC provided a much higher number of transformants, but required additional steps. Our data suggest that for small inserts (<1.5 kb), OEC is a good option, requiring only two new primers, but performs poorly for larger inserts. These ligation-independent cloning approaches constitute an essential part of the researcher's molecular-tool kit.

Type Journal
ISBN 1932-6203 (Electronic) 1932-6203 (Linking)
Authors Stevenson, J. ; Krycer, J. R. ; Phan, L. ; Brown, A. J.;
Publisher Name PLoS One
Published Date 2013-12-01
Published Volume 8
Published Issue 12
Published Pages e83888
Status Published in-print
URL link to publisher's version
OpenAccess link to author's accepted manuscript version