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Nucleic Acids Res. May 11, 1994; 22(9): 1593–1599.
PMCID: PMC308034

Codon cassette mutagenesis: a general method to insert or replace individual codons by using universal mutagenic cassettes.


We describe codon cassette mutagenesis, a simple method of mutagenesis that uses universal mutagenic cassettes to deposit single codons at specific sites in double-stranded DNA. A target molecule is first constructed that contains a blunt, double-strand break at the site targeted for mutagenesis. A double-stranded mutagenic codon cassette is then inserted at the target site. Each mutagenic codon cassette contains a three base pair direct terminal repeat and two head-to-head recognition sequences for the restriction endonuclease Sapl, an enzyme that cleaves outside of its recognition sequence. The intermediate molecule containing the mutagenic cassette is then digested with Sapl, thereby removing most of the mutagenic cassette, leaving only a three base cohesive overhang that is ligated to generate the final insertion or substitution mutation. A general method for constructing blunt-end target molecules suitable for this approach is also described. Because the mutagenic cassette is excised during this procedure and alters the target only by introducing the desired mutation, the same cassette can be used to introduce a particular codon at all target sites. Each cassette can deposit two different codons, depending on the orientation in which it is inserted into the target molecule. Therefore, a series of eleven cassettes is sufficient to insert all possible amino acids at any constructed target site. Thus codon cassettes are 'off-the-shelf' reagents, and this methodology should be a particularly useful and inexpensive approach for subjecting multiple different positions in a protein sequence to saturation mutagenesis.

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