Characteristics of mutations generated through digestion with restriction enzyme and ligation in plasmid DNA

Shingo Nakamura, Hironobu Ikehata, Tetsuya Ono

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Recently, the use of restriction enzymes has been extended to studies in which rare events such as mutation and mistakes in DNA repair are examined. In these studies, the specificity of restriction enzymes becomes critical. To clarify the nature of the rare unexpected events occurring in the process of cutting of DNA with restriction enzymes then ligating it, we studied the molecular characteristics of unexpected plasmid DNAs that were retrieved as mutants of the plasmid after transfection to E. coli. The plasmid used was pUR288, containing lacZ as a marker of mutation. It was digested with restriction enzymes under the conditions recommended by the supplier of the enzymes and under the presence of DMSO, which is known to induce star activity of the enzymes. Comparisons of mutant frequencies and of nucleotide sequences of the mutants found in the different conditions indicated that nonspecific endonucleolytic activity similar to that found under star activity was present under the recommended conditions and, further, was responsible for the creation of deletion-type mutations. The frequency of these events ranged from 10-5 to 10-3, depending on the kind of restriction enzymes analyzed. Although the levels of the nonspecificity were not high, they should be considered in assays such as mutation and mistakes in DNA repair, where rare events are examined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-54
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental and Molecular Mutagenesis
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Mutation
  • Plasmid DNA
  • Restriction enzyme
  • Star activity


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