High-throughput Site-directed Scanning Mutagenesis Using a Two-fragment PCR Approach

Bio Protoc. 2020 Jan 5;10(1):e3484. doi: 10.21769/BioProtoc.3484.


Site-directed scanning mutagenesis is a useful tool applied in studying protein function and designing proteins with new properties, such as increased stability or enzymatic activity. Creating a systematic library of hundreds of site-directed mutants is still a demanding and expensive task. The established protocols for making such libraries include PCR amplification of the recombinant DNA using a pair of primers carrying a target mutation in the same PCR. Unfortunately, this approach is very often coupled with PCR artifacts which compromise overall efficiency of site-directed mutagenesis. To reduce the failure rate due to the PCR artifacts, we have set up a high-throughput mutagenesis protocol based on a two-fragment PCR approach. To this end, each mutation is introduced in two separate PCRs resulting in two linear fragments of the mutated plasmid. In the next steps, the PCR template is digested and the two matching plasmid fragments are joined together using Gibson assembly. Separating the corresponding mutagenic primers into two different PCRs decreases a number of artifacts and thus increases overall cloning efficiency. Furthermore, free software that we developed facilitates both high-throughput primer design and analysis of sequencing results. Overall, this protocol enabled us to efficiently produce several alanine-scanning libraries of 400 single-point mutations with complete coverage of the protein sequence.

Keywords: Gibson assembly; High throughput mutagenesis; Scanning mutagenesis; Site-directed; Two-fragment PCR.