The once ambitious goal of creating custom DNA-binding factors has been achieved. Advances in construction methodology now enable any laboratory to create site-specific binding proteins to nearly any sequence. Using predefined zinc finger modules, new proteins can be constructed in days with minimal cost and using only standard polymerase chain reaction techniques. The existing spectrum of modules can be rearranged to produce more than one billion different proteins that bind with high affinity and specificity. Artificial transcription factors based on modified zinc finger domains have recently been shown by several groups to be capable of activating or repressing transcription of a handful of endogenous genes in the chromatin environment of plant and animal cells. These proteins can also be used in a number of ways to compete with endogenous factors for specific binding sites in vivo. Zinc finger peptides are therefore useful tools in the study of gene regulation and signal transduction. A detailed description of the construction method is presented, along with a full discussion of potential caveats and future expectations.
(c) 2002 Elsevier Science (USA).