Efficient modification of λ-DNA substrates for single-molecule studies.

Yoori Kim, Armando de la Torre, Andrew A. Leal & Ilya J. Finkelstein, Sci Rep. 7 (1) :2071 (2017).
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Single-molecule studies of protein-nucleic acid interactions frequently require site-specific modification of long DNA substrates. The bacteriophage λ is a convenient source of high quality long (48.5 kb) DNA. However, introducing specific sequences, tertiary structures, and chemical modifications into λ-DNA remains technically challenging. Most current approaches rely on multi-step ligations with low yields and incomplete products. Here, we describe a molecular toolkit for rapid preparation of modified λ-DNA. A set of PCR cassettes facilitates the introduction of recombinant DNA sequences into the λ-phage genome with 90-100% yield. Extrahelical structures and chemical modifications can be inserted at user-defined sites via an improved nicking enzyme-based strategy. As a proof-of-principle, we explore the interactions of S. cerevisiae Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen (yPCNA) with modified DNA sequences and structures incorporated within λ-DNA. Our results demonstrate that S. cerevisiae Replication Factor C (yRFC) can load yPCNA onto 5’-ssDNA flaps, (CAG)13 triplet repeats, and homoduplex DNA. However, yPCNA remains trapped on the (CAG)13 structure, confirming a proposed mechanism for triplet repeat expansion. We anticipate that this molecular toolbox will be broadly useful for other studies that require site-specific modification of long DNA substrates.