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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994 Oct 25;91(22):10747-51.

DNA shuffling by random fragmentation and reassembly: in vitro recombination for molecular evolution.

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Affymax Research Institute, Palo Alto, CA 94304.


Computer simulations of the evolution of linear sequences have demonstrated the importance of recombination of blocks of sequence rather than point mutagenesis alone. Repeated cycles of point mutagenesis, recombination, and selection should allow in vitro molecular evolution of complex sequences, such as proteins. A method for the reassembly of genes from their random DNA fragments, resulting in in vitro recombination is reported. A 1-kb gene, after DNase I digestion and purification of 10- to 50-bp random fragments, was reassembled to its original size and function. Similarly, a 2.7-kb plasmid could be efficiently reassembled. Complete recombination was obtained between two markers separated by 75 bp; each marker was located on a separate gene. Oligonucleotides with 3' and 5' ends that are homologous to the gene can be added to the fragment mixture and incorporated into the reassembled gene. Thus, mixtures of synthetic oligonucleotides and PCR fragments can be mixed into a gene at defined positions based on homology. As an example, a library of chimeras of the human and murine genes for interleukin 1 beta has been prepared. Shuffling can also be used for the in vitro equivalent of some standard genetic manipulations, such as a backcross with parental DNA. The advantages of recombination over existing mutagenesis methods are likely to increase with the numbers of cycles of molecular evolution.

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