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New England Biolabs

DIY Centrifugation-Based Purification of cfDNA

There are many reasons you may want to study circulating, cell-free DNA (cfDNA) such as non-invasive prenatal testing to generate a molecular karyotype of an unborn fetus or for use in cancer to detect, diagnose and monitor the disease. Qiagen’s QIAamp circulating nucleic acids extraction kit is consistently cited in the scientific literature as the…

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A Beginner’s Guide to How Blunt-End Cloning Works

Blunt and sticky might sound dull and dirty but knowing how these different cloning methods work is important when choosing which method to use. Here we give you a guide to how blunt-end cloning works. Blunt-end cloning is the cloning of DNA fragments containing no unpaired bases at the 5’ and 3’ prime ends (i.e.…

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Top Tips for Troubleshooting In Vitro Transcription 

The Phobia of RNases My first experience of troubleshooting in vitro transcription came when I was synthesizing RNA In-Situ Probes for the first time. A lab mate ominously warned me that I had just returned to lab after a bout of flu and that meant I’m a walking talking factory of RNases. I went ahead…

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Faster Ligations: PEGing down the Secret

Overnight ligations are inconvenient — especially when they fail. Luckily, there’s a straightforward way to faster DNA ligations. This article highlights the secret ingredient to faster ligation reactions and offers some tips and caveats on its use. For a general overview of DNA ligations, see here and here. Buy a Quick Ligation Kit The most…

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How to Set up Your Elution Experiment

What do DNA mini preps and protein immunoprecipitation experiments have in common? They start differently, but they end with the same, critical stage – elution. But what exactly is elution, and what is the point? The Terminology First, let’s start with some basic terminology: Elution – extracting one material from another by washing with a…

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CPEC– a Quick and Inexpensive Cloning Strategy

Cloning Strategies – a Whole Lot of Options to Choose Molecular cloning has come a long way from simple restriction digestion-ligation cloning strategies to a large number of highly efficient alternatives. Broadly classified, cloning techniques can be divided as sequence dependent and sequence independent strategies. Sequence-dependent strategies are based on restriction digestion-ligation techniques or site-specific…

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Multiplex Ligation-dependent Probe Amplification (MLPA)

Multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) is a molecular technique developed by MRC-Holland back in 2002. In a nutshell, MLPA is a sensitive technique that allows quantification of nucleic acid sequences, quickly and efficiently. It is performed in many laboratories worldwide, and can be applied to detect copy number changes (like deletions or duplications) of a…

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Small Differences that Matter: Detecting Microsatellite Polymorphisms

If you have any training in genetics, chances are that during the course of your education you ran into those funny little sequences called microsatellites. These are repeated tandem motifs 1-6 nucleotides long, scattered all over our genomes. These used to be called “junk DNA,” because researchers thought that the repeats served no purpose. Nowadays,…

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Three Important Things to Check After Obtaining Your Plasmid

You have a new plasmid, now what do you do? You are excited to go further with your project. But before you can move on, you have to confirm the presence of your insert as well as the sequence and orientation of the insert. Is the insert the right size? Most people use restriction enzymes…

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Six Facts About Restriction Enzymes

When restrictions come in the form of paperwork and approvals, we detest them. Whereas, when the restrictions come in the form of enzymes, we love them, don’t we? Restriction enzymes play a key role in biotechnology research. Read ahead for six useful facts about restriction enzymes.  1.  Restriction enzymes are helpful to bacteria Restriction enzymes…

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Faster, Even Cooler DNA Gels!

When I began a master’s program in 2008, the lab task I hated more than anything was running agarose gels for DNA. Something so simple, ubiquitous, and necessary gobbled up more hours in the lab than I care to remember. Even though we added the DNA stain directly to the molten agarose and didn’t have…

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Comparing Viral Vector Expression Systems

Some viral vectors are the little black dresses of cloning and expression experiments: They work for almost any occasion and always give you the results you were hoping for. Other vectors are more like ballgowns that only come out of storage for special occasions. Let’s wade through all the information out there and take a…

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How to Fix Your Bad Cloning Ratios

You open the incubator in the morning and to your dismay there are a hundred glorious colonies… on your vector-only control plate. While there are a number of potential causes, I’ll highlight a few of the more likely culprits and their solutions.

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How to Light Up your Life – Tips and Tricks to Troubleshoot your Luciferase Assay.

What is a luciferase assay and what is it useful for? A luciferase assay takes advantage of the innate bioluminescent properties some organisms exhibit, most notably the firefly. The firefly can convert luciferin to oxyluciferin in the presence of the enzyme luciferase to emit light. The most common scientific assays utilizing luciferase are reporter assays…

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Quick reference: Determining DNA Concentration & Purity

The most comprehensive way to evaluate DNA concentration and purity is to use both UV spectrophotometeric measurements and agarose gel eletrophoresis. This quick reference guide gives an overview of the information that can be derived from both. UV spectrophotometric measurement of DNA concentration and purity DNA itself, and most of the common contaminants found in…

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More Than a Clever Name: Northern Blots

You might think Northern Blots are an old-fashioned technique. However, qRT-PCR is prone to false positives and negatives, and reviewers may require Northern Blot confirmation of your qRT-PCR results. So sometimes Northern Blots are a necessary evil.

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Defeat RNAse Contamination Using Bleach in Your RNA Agarose Gel

So, you’ve extracted your precious RNA and want to check its quality on a gel. Conventionally, you would run a formaldehyde gel, which is messy and requires a lot of prep. Plus, it is a huge undertaking in terms of time (and money) if all you want to do is just check the quality of…

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