In vivo site-directed mutagenesis using oligonucleotides

Nat Biotechnol. 2001 Aug;19(8):773-6. doi: 10.1038/90837.


Functional characterization of the genes of higher eukaryotes has been aided by their expression in model organisms and by analyzing site-specific changes in homologous genes in model systems such as the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Modifying sequences in yeast or other organisms such that no heterologous material is retained requires in vitro mutagenesis together with subcloning. PCR-based procedures that do not involve cloning are inefficient or require multistep reactions that increase the risk of additional mutations. An alternative approach, demonstrated in yeast, relies on transformation with an oligonucleotide, but the method is restricted to the generation of mutants with a selectable phenotype. Oligonucleotides, when combined with gap repair, have also been used to modify plasmids in yeast; however, this approach is limited by restriction-site availability. We have developed a mutagenesis approach in yeast based on transformation by unpurified oligonucleotides that allows the rapid creation of site-specific DNA mutations in vivo. A two-step, cloning-free process, referred to as delitto perfetto, generates products having only the desired mutation, such as a single or multiple base change, an insertion, a small or a large deletion, or even random mutations. The system provides for multiple rounds of mutation in a window up to 200 base pairs. The process is RAD52 dependent, is not constrained by the distribution of naturally occurring restriction sites, and requires minimal DNA sequencing. Because yeast is commonly used for random and selective cloning of genomic DNA from higher eukaryotes such as yeast artificial chromosomes, the delitto perfetto strategy also provides an efficient way to create precise changes in mammalian or other DNA sequences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Models, Genetic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional / methods*
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed*
  • Mutation
  • Oligonucleotides / metabolism
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*
  • Transformation, Genetic


  • Oligonucleotides
  • Recombinant Proteins