Background: Artificial chromosomes (ACs) are a promising next-generation vector for genetic engineering. The most common methods for developing AC constructs are to clone and combine centromeric DNA and telomeric DNA fragments into a single large DNA construct. The AC constructs developed from such methods will contain very short telomeric DNA fragments because telomeric repeats can not be stably maintained in Escherichia coli.
Results: We report a novel approach to assemble AC constructs that are capped with long telomeric DNA. We designed a plasmid vector that can be combined with a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clone containing centromeric DNA sequences from a target plant species. The recombined clone can be used as the centromeric DNA backbone of the AC constructs. We also developed two plasmid vectors containing short arrays of plant telomeric DNA. These vectors can be used to generate expanded arrays of telomeric DNA up to several kilobases. The centromeric DNA backbone can be ligated with the telomeric DNA fragments to generate AC constructs consisting of a large centromeric DNA fragment capped with expansive telomeric DNA at both ends.
Conclusions: We successfully developed a procedure that circumvents the problem of cloning and maintaining long arrays of telomeric DNA sequences that are not stable in E. coli. Our procedure allows development of AC constructs in different eukaryotic species that are capped with long and designed sizes of telomeric DNA fragments.