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Biotechniques. 2003 Mar;34(3):626-8, 630-2.

PCR-assisted contig extension: stepwise strategy for bacterial genome closure.

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Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, 605 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10158, USA.


Finishing is rate limiting for genome projects, and improvements in the efficiency of complete genome-sequence compilation will require improved protocols for gap closure. Here we report a novel approach for extending shotgun contigs and closing gaps that we termed PCR-assisted contig extension (PACE). PACE depends on the capture of rare mismatched interactions that occur between arbitrary primers and template DNA of unknown sequence, even under highly stringent conditions, by means of elevated PCR-cycle repetition and the use of specific anchoring primers corresponding to adjacent regions of known sequence. Using PACE, we have generated extensions with an average of 1 kb from all contigs generated from the shotgun sequencing of a 5-Mb genome, which closed the majority of gaps with a single round of experimentation. This included the generation of multiple extensions for contigs that terminated in one of the eight copies of the rRNA operon. We calculate that the switch from shotgun sequencing to PACE should occur between 5- and 8-fold genome coverage for maximum benefit and minimum overall cost. PACE is a robust and straightforward strategy that should simplify the finishing phase of bacterial genome projects.

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