Ligation Independent Cloning Primer Design
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Ligation Independent Cloning Primer Design

Ligation independent cloning (LIC) is an easy and effective method to ensure successful cloning, all without the need for ligation. As easy as the technique is, designing primers can be a bit tricky. In this article, we will present a quick overview on primer design for ligation independent cloning.

Five Things That Irritate Flow Cytometrists

Five Things That Irritate Flow Cytometrists

I have worked in flow cytometry for a number of years. I’m still annoyed that many myths and imprecisions are perpetrated and perpetuated. Here is my non-exhaustive list of cytometry-related beliefs that send flow cytometrists screaming from the room or at least, being English, make me tut sadly. Forward Scatter Equals Cell Size No No…

Gel Filtration Chromatography Media:  What You Need to Know

Gel Filtration Chromatography Media: What You Need to Know

Do you use pre-packed Superdex 75 or Superdex 200 columns for gel filtration chromatography? Ever wonder if other media could better address your purification needs? Look no further. Your quest ends here! But if you’re looking for information on gel filtration principles, check out this earlier article. Choosing a Column for your Gel Filtration Experiment…

E.coli Electroporation vs Chemical Transformation

E.coli Electroporation vs Chemical Transformation

This is the first in a three-part series on the transformation of E.coli. By the end of this, you should be an expert on E.coli transformation and on which strains to choose for different applications. If you’re already an expert, I hope it’ll be an enjoyable refresher for you. In either case, please comment below…

Get Ready, Get Set, Retro – How to Get Started With Retroviral Transduction

Get Ready, Get Set, Retro – How to Get Started With Retroviral Transduction

Retroviral transduction is becoming a popular choice for gene delivery into mammalian cells and has multiple advantages over other techniques. If you decide to start work on this useful technique, here is how you can go about it: Step 0: Obtain permission First and foremost, do you have the permission, authorization, and training to work…

No More White Elephants! – Consider this Before Buying a Real-time PCR Cycler

No More White Elephants! – Consider this Before Buying a Real-time PCR Cycler

Does your lab have a closet full of white elephants; once expensive instruments that are no longer fit for purpose, or have broken down? In many cases, all of that wasted money and resource could have been saved if the buyers had made smart choices about matching the instrument more closely to their needs. A…

The Key to Unlocking DNA from FFPE Tissues

The Key to Unlocking DNA from FFPE Tissues

Formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissues are valuable samples that typically come from human specimens collected for examination of the histology of biopsies for the detection of cancer. But each sample contains much more information just waiting to be unlocked. Despite the tiny sample size, DNA can be extracted from the tissue sections and used…

Where are My Bands? Troubleshooting a Signal-less Western

Where are My Bands? Troubleshooting a Signal-less Western

Western blotting uses electrophoresis and antibody-epitope affinity to give a semi-quantitative and (theoretically) clear measure of protein abundance. It’s a long procedure, filled with many steps—and even more room for error. Learning to troubleshoot certain problems is incredibly important for continued success with this technique. So what do you do when your final imaged product…

How to See the Cell Cycle Through Your Microscope

How to See the Cell Cycle Through Your Microscope

Even in the most basic applications, fluorescence microscopy can be a very powerful technique. Simply put, the ability to actually see the biology you are interested in cannot be matched in directness. Often, the aim of fluorescence microscopy is to observe the effect of an experimental manipulation. Ultimately, you would like to know that the…

Non-specific Binding? Tips to Sharpen up Your Western Blot

Non-specific Binding? Tips to Sharpen up Your Western Blot

In the previous installment of this series on western blotting, we addressed potential sources of error when your final product is completely bare. But alternatively, what do you do when too much background is the problem? You may have beautiful bands of interest—but if there is a bunch of non-specific binding, your quantification and data…

Keeping On Top of Housekeeping Genes

Keeping On Top of Housekeeping Genes

Want to measure how much mRNA you have in a particular sample? Easy! Make some cDNA, add some fluorescent DNA-intercalating dye, pop it into a quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) machine and Bob’s your uncle! You have your result! Easy right…? Not so fast. As with any scientific assay, qRT-PCR requires some optimization. First, you need…

Finding Nemo: Understanding Single Cell Isolation and PCR Amplification

Finding Nemo: Understanding Single Cell Isolation and PCR Amplification

Every protocol for single cell PCR can be broken down into two steps. In the first step, the cells are isolated by micromanipulation, laser capture microdissection, flow cytometry, or by direct micropipetting. Next, the genetic material is processed by PCR to amplify your sequence of interest. Here, we’ll go through the different options for isolating…

Polymerase chain reaction-enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (PCR-ELISA)

Polymerase chain reaction-enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (PCR-ELISA)

As researchers, we are constantly on the lookout for new and improved ways to analyze, detect and quantify our favorite protein or gene. Luckily, we don’t always need to reinvent the wheel! PCR-ELISA is a good example of where two commonly used techniques have been merged together to create a very powerful analytical tool. What…

A Beginner’s Guide to Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) Technology

A Beginner’s Guide to Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) Technology

The completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 ushered in a new era of rapid, affordable, and accurate genome analysis—called Next Generation Sequencing (NGS). NGS builds upon “first generation sequencing” technologies to yield accurate and cost-effective sequencing results. Fred Sanger sequenced the first whole DNA genome, the virus phage ?X174, in 1977. In that…

Beware The Bane of Batch Effects

Beware The Bane of Batch Effects

A promising study on using gene expression to develop personalized treatments for ovarian cancer. A report of surprisingly high levels of differential gene expression among different ethnic groups. The announcement of previously unsuspected levels of physiological diversity in Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes the most deadly form of malaria. What do these three seemingly…

Do-it-Yourself PCR

Do-it-Yourself PCR

Currently Open Source principles are offering interesting tools for doing molecular biology at an incredibly low cost. One interesting example is OpenPCR (www.openPCR.org) a project developed in order to ensure that the basic technology to perform PCR is affordably and openly available to all. In the past one of the main barriers for introducing PCR technology…

Western Blot, ELISA, SPR, Biosensor Assay or PCR: Which Technique Should I Use?
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Western Blot, ELISA, SPR, Biosensor Assay or PCR: Which Technique Should I Use?

Stimulation of cells/tissue with a given stimulus (e.g., a cytokine) is a common experimental setup in any cell biology lab. The cellular response to the external stimulus e.g., the activation/deactivation of intracellular signaling pathways and/or the secretion of proteins is often the research goal, and there are a number of different methods that you can use to analyze such…

How Bisulfite Pyrosequencing Works

How Bisulfite Pyrosequencing Works

Bisulfite pyrosequencing is becoming a routine technique in molecular biology labs as a method to precisely measure DNA methylation levels right down to the single base. The technique allows for detailed and high resolution analysis of DNA methylation at specific genomic regions. How to detect the 5th base? Methylation of any of the four nucleotides…

How to Train a Junior Colleague in the Basics of PCR

How to Train a Junior Colleague in the Basics of PCR

You’re a senior grad student or postdoc, and you’ve done more PCRs than you can count. A new student has joined your lab, and you’ve been charged with training them on PCR. You don’t want to lead him/her astray, but it’s hard to remember the parts that you struggled with in your early days. This…

How to properly analyze and troubleshoot DNA sequencing results

How to properly analyze and troubleshoot DNA sequencing results

As part of my job ensuring plasmid quality at Addgene, I analyze 50-100 sequencing reactions a week. So I have developed some good habits that I wanted to pass on to you to make sure you are getting the most out of the data you get back from your sequencing runs. The most important of…

10 Ways to Improve Your Bisulfite Sequencing Results

10 Ways to Improve Your Bisulfite Sequencing Results

The importance of epigenetics in biology is increasingly acknowledged (if you’re not convinced yet, read my crash course). One commonly studied epigenetic mark is CpG methylation: cytosines that are directly followed by a guanine nucleotide (indicated by CpG), can be methylated, unlike non-CpG Cs. Since attachment of a methyl group to a cytosine can affect…

Eliminate the Growth Lag with Large E. coli Cultures

Eliminate the Growth Lag with Large E. coli Cultures

If you purify proteins expressed in E. coli, then you’re probably familiar with this scenario: you come in bright and early in the morning and inoculate your large flasks of media with the overnight culture, start shaking them at 37 °C, and now you wait. And watch. And wait some more. You can’t venture far,…

Tips for Eukaryotic Cell Transfection

Tips for Eukaryotic Cell Transfection

Transfection of eukaryotic cells is a routine but sometimes tricky procedure. There are several transfection reagents available on the market, but sometimes the old methods are the best. I find that the simplest, fastest and cheapest transfection method for eukaryotic cells is calcium phosphate mediated transfection (1). It’s main advantage is that, since Ca2+ is…

Sending Plasmids: How to Avoid Jail Time and Shredded Envelopes

Sending Plasmids: How to Avoid Jail Time and Shredded Envelopes

Whether you need to get your plasmid DNA to a lab on the other side of the world, or a few hundred miles down the road, it’s important to make sure your precious sample gets there, it is not degraded, and you don’t end up in jail. Here’s the Bitesize guide on how to send…

Competent E.coli: To buy or not to buy?

Competent E.coli: To buy or not to buy?

Buying competent cells from commercial suppliers is convenient, provides a guarantee of quality, and gives access to strains with a variety of in-built traits that assist with things like maintenance of plasmid integrity (more on these traits later). However, this can be an expensive business. Alternatively, competent cells of any strain, including the specially-constructed commercial…