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Gene. 1999 Aug 5;236(1):159-67.

Novel family shuffling methods for the in vitro evolution of enzymes.

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Marine Biotechnology Institute, 3-75-1 Heita, Kamaishi, Iwate 026-0001, Japan.


It has recently been shown that shuffling of the amino acid sequences of family enzymes allows the generation of improved enzymes. Family shuffling is generally achieved by a DNase I treatment and then by PCR. Shuffling of the xylE and nahH genes, both encoding catechol 2,3-dioxygenases, was carried out by the published method. However, nahH-xylE hybrids were only formed at a very low frequency (less than 1%). Therefore, we developed improved methods for family shuffling by which DNA was cleaved by restriction enzymes instead of by DNase I. With the first improved method, five nahH fragments and five xylE fragments that had been generated by restriction enzyme digestion were subjected to the PCR reactions in two steps, the first being without a primer and the second with a set of primers. This method enabled nahH-xylE hybrid genes to be formed at a high frequency (almost 100%). With the second improved method, nahH and xylE were cleaved by several sets of restriction enzymes, and these digests were then reassembled in two steps. The nahH and xylE DNAs were each cleaved by two (or three) sets of restriction enzymes, and one type of nahH digest and one type of xylE digest were mixed, thus making four (or nine) different mixtures of the nahH and xylE digests. These mixtures were used as templates to carry out PCR without a primer. After the first PCR reaction, all the mixtures were combined, and a second PCR reaction was carried out without a primer. Following these two PCR assembly steps, a third PCR reaction was carried out with two primers to amplify the full-length nahH-xylE hybrid genes. This second method also yielded nahH-xylE hybrids at a frequency of 100%. The degree of recombination of the products with the second method was higher than that with the first method. These methods were used to isolate catechol 2,3-dioxygenases exhibiting relatively high stability at high temperature, one of them being respectively 13- and 26-fold more thermostable than XylE and NahH at 50 degrees C.

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