Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's Transformation Time.

Last time I checked in, my PCR reactions that were supposed to add restriction sites to either end of the nitrite reductase (NiR) terminator region appeared to work and work well. When I ran the PCR reactions on a gel, the amplified DNA bands were really strong and were the correct length.
This gave me the go ahead to continue the path in isolating & altering the NiR terminator in order to yield a sequence of DNA to fit the final NiR plasmid for my project's experiments.

Now I need to insert the NiR terminator into a vector plasmid, transform it into bacteria, and digest the NiR terminator back out of the plasmid to double check that the terminator I got on the gel from my PCR reaction (above) is the correct piece of DNA before I insert it into the NiR plasmid to complete the final NiR plasmid.

We use bacteria to amplify pieces of DNA because of their quick generation times. If you insert a plasmid into bacteria, they will duplicate the plasmid as if it were their own DNA as they grow and divide. A plasmid is a ring of DNA, which is essential for this to work, because bacteria will cut up and destroy any loose pieces of linear DNA. In order to get our NiR terminator to be duplicated by the bacteria, we insert it into a vector plasmid first. The vector plasmid is designed to accept small pieces of DNA from PCR reactions, lock in that piece of DNA within the plasmid. This plasmid can then be transformed into bacteria.

Bacterial transformation is really easy. Once the vector plasmid complete with our PCR DNA is ready, we add the plasmids to specially-altered E. coli cells, incubate the cells on ice for a short time (to lull them into a false sense of security), and then transfer them to a hot water bath (42°C) for thirty seconds. Thirty seconds is all we need for the bacteria cells to panic and scream "WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?" This prompts the bacteria, because they are stressed, to take up any DNA in their environment. Well good thing the only DNA in their environment is the plasmid we gave them! Through the heat shock, a large amount of bacteria should have taken up our plasmid. We then grow the bacteria over night while they recuperate, divide exponentially, and make copies of our plasmid. This process is summarized by the cartoon below:

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