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Nucleic Acids Res. 1998 Nov 1; 26(21): 4901–4909.
PMCID: PMC147936

Cloning and stable maintenance of DNA fragments over 300 kb in Escherichia coli with conventional plasmid-based vectors.


Bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) and P1-derived artificial chromosome (PAC) systems were previously developed for cloning of very large eukaryotic DNA fragments in bacteria. We report the feasibility of cloning very large fragments of eukaryotic DNA in bacteria using conventional plasmid-based vectors. One conventional plasmid vector (pGEM11), one conventional binary plasmid vector (pSLJ1711) and one conventional binary cosmid vector (pCLD04541) were investigated using the widely used BAC (pBeloBAC11 and pECBAC1) and BIBAC (BIBAC2) vectors as controls. The plasmid vector pGEM11 yielded clones ranging in insert sizes from 40 to 100 kb, whereas the two binary vectors pCLD04541 and pSLJ1711 yielded clones ranging in insert sizes from 40 to 310 kb. Analysis of the pCLD04541 and pSLJ1711 clones indicated that they had insert sizes and stabilities similar to the BACs and BIBACs. Our findings indicate that conventional plasmid-based vectors are capable of cloning and stably maintaining DNA fragments as large as BACs and PACs in bacteria. These results suggest that many existing plasmid-based vectors, including plant and animal transformation and expression binary vectors, could be directly used for cloning of very large eukaryotic DNA fragments. The pCLD04541 and pSLJ1711 clones were shown to be present at at least 4-5 copies/cell. The high stability of these clones indicates that stability of clones does not seem contingent on single-copy status. The insert sizes and the copy numbers of the pCLD04541 and pSLJ1711 clones indicate that Escherichia coli can stably maintain at least 1200 kb of foreign DNA per cell. These results provide a new conceptual and theoretical basis for development of improved and new vectors for large DNA fragment cloning and transformation. According to this discovery, we have established a system for large DNA fragment cloning in bacteria using the two binary vectors, with which several very large-insert DNA libraries have been developed.

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