Background: In protein engineering, site-directed mutagenesis methods are used to generate DNA sequences with mutated codons, insertions or deletions. In a widely used method, mutations are generated by PCR using a pair of oligonucleotide primers designed with mismatching nucleotides at the center of the primers. In this method, primer-primer annealing may prevent cloning of mutant cDNAs. To circumvent this problem we developed an alternative procedure that does not use forward-reverse primer pair in the same reaction.
Results: In initial studies we used a double-primer PCR mutagenesis protocol, but sequencing of products showed tandem repeats of primer in cloned DNA. We developed an alternative method that starts with two Single-Primer Reactions IN Parallel using high-fidelity Pwo DNA polymerase. Thus, we call the method with the acronym SPRINP. The SPRINP reactions are then combined, denatured at 95 degrees C, and slowly cooled, promoting random annealing of the parental DNA and the newly synthesized strands. The products are digested with DpnI that digests methylated parental strands, and then transformed into E. coli. Using this method we generated >40 mutants in cDNAs coding for human Epithelial Na+ Channel (ENaC) subunits. The method has been tested for 1-3 bp codon mutation and insertion of a 27 bp epitope tag into cDNAs.
Conclusion: The SPRINP mutagenesis protocol yields mutants reliably and with high fidelity. The use of a single primer in each amplification reaction increases the probability of success of primers relative to previous methods employing a forward and reverse primer pair in the same reaction.