Skip to content

DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

7 Tips for using Magnetic Beads for DNA Cleanup

Whatever molecular biology techniques you use, at some point you will have to clean up your DNA samples to remove things like buffers, contaminants and nucleotides from you precious sample, so that you have perfectly pure DNA for your downstream experiments. Magnetic beads are one DNA cleanup option. They are simple and effective—and their reassuringly…

Read More

5 Things You Should Know About Agrobacterium Binary Vectors

You can create stably transformed plants expressing your gene of interest; be it for the subcellular localization of your protein or simply for the in planta protein expression and purification. Whatever it is, you can do wonders with plant transformation. Sound difficult? It isn’t. Just like there are millions of microbes that interact with us,…

Read More

Cut My Gene into Pieces– Introduction to Restriction Enzyme Cloning

At the heart of cloning are restriction enzymes. Restriction enzymes are a common tool in any molecular biology lab. Need to know how large your plasmid is? Cut it with a restriction enzyme. Need to chop your genomic DNA into smaller pieces for a southern hybridization or to prepare a library? Use a restriction enzyme.…

Read More

Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis – The Basics

You have probably run a standard agarose gel hundreds of times. They are great for visualizing small DNA fragments up to 10 kb, but what if you want to examine really large pieces of DNA or even whole chromosomes? This is where pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) comes in! While the equipment required to run…

Read More

How to Plan a Restriction Cloning Experiment In Silico

Restriction cloning, at its core, is quite simple. You simply cut the target vector and insert with the same enzymes, clean digested vector and insert up, ligate the two together, transform the ligated vector and insert into bacteria, and then screen. While getting each of the steps correct can be a bit of a hassle,…

Read More

Choosing the Right E. coli Strain for Transformation

Cloning, purifying, and expressing modified genetic material is routinely done in microbes such as Escherichia coli (E.coli). Relatives of this molecular biology workhorse normally live in the intestinal track of humans. The particular E. coli strain (K-12) that scientists use all over the world was isolated from the feces of a diphtheria patient in 1922.1…

Read More

SAGE Part 2: LongSAGE, RL-SAGE and SuperSAGE

SAGE, or serial analysis of gene expression, is a technique that enables you to digitally analyze the entire gene expression profile of a cell(s). Before this technique, scientists were limited to studying a few gene’s expression at once by a technique called the expressed sequence tag approach. The coolest part of SAGE is you don’t…

Read More

How to Choose Your Method for DNA Extraction from Whole Blood

Over the last few decades, PCR, next generation sequencing and microarray technologies have taken blood-based research to a new level. Modern blood-based application range from DNA fingerprinting, whole genome sequencing, blood banking to liquid biopsy and many more. Regardless of the application, pure, intact, double stranded and highly concentrated DNA extraction from whole blood is…

Read More

Eight Top Tips to Maximize Yield from Whole Blood DNA Isolation

When you perform genomic DNA extraction from whole blood, low yield or low quality DNA can result in many issues. No matter your intended downstream application—qPCR, next generation sequencing, Sanger sequencing, and so on—you need high quality DNA. We’ve made this step-by-step guide to assist you in getting the highest possible DNA yield and quality, and…

Read More

Demystifying REBASE and NEBcutter

Two years ago, all I knew was third BASE in my baseball field and the cutter ball from the pitcher. Now, I know a lot more about lab-based BASES and cutters: REBASE and NEBcutter. While they sound like baseball terms, REBASE and NEBcutter are tools for working with restriction enzymes. Read on to find out…

Read More

How to Improve Plasmid Yield Using Antibiotics

After the initial excitement of growing and isolating plasmid DNA, routinely preparing plasmid mini/midi/maxi preps gets boring. You definitely want a way to squeeze the maximum amount of plasmid DNA out of your culture. Good news—you can increase your plasmid yield using antibiotics. Keep the Pressure On to Improve Plasmid Yield Remember that you need…

Read More

Polysome Profiles: What You Need to Know

Has your supervisor asked you to do a polysome profile? Are you attempting them but running in to problems? This article will help explain what they are, the basics of the protocol and provide some helpful tips (including some things that I wish I had known when I first started out). Polysome Profiling: The Basics…

Read More

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…

Read More

A Guide to Solid Phase Reversible Immobilization

  Scientists today depend heavily on many molecular biology techniques to perform their research. For example, with the advent of next generation sequencing (NGS): scientists are able to look at very minute details, right down to individual genetic sequence variations. However, the increase in experimental complexity means that every extra step becomes more crucial than…

Read More

10 Tips for Better DNA Gel Extraction Results

Anyone who has worked in a molecular biology lab knows that DNA gel extraction can be surprisingly challenging. Why is this? Is it because of poor product yields, or maybe it’s because the gel extraction process uses harsh chemicals and conditions (e.g., chaotropic salts, ethidium bromide, ethanol, heat) that will damage or denature DNA and potentially decrease…

Read More

Southern (blot) exposure remains a useful technique

At a meeting recently, I asked two PhD molecular biologists about the last time they used a Southern blot. After nearly a minute of unrestrained laughter, they asked “Who on earth still does that?” “Maybe for a very, very specific use,” conjectured one of the scientists. When I asked the scientist who taught me the…

Read More

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…

Read More

How to Cheat QuikChange™

Generating a DNA vector library of single and/or compound mutants for a target protein can be a daunting task. If you’re lucky and work in a well-funded lab, you might outsource this process via gene synthesis. Most of us though, need to do it the old-fashioned way. Traditional QuikChange™ Traditionally, there are many steps you…

Read More

Retroviruses – Friends or Foes?

The word ‘retrovirus’ evokes images of HIV, the AIDS pandemic and a desperate worldwide effort to defeat this mighty adversary. But on the flip side, scientific research has managed to tame the virus and use it as a tool for advancement. Retroviruses are commonly used to introduce genes into mammalian cells to express or knockdown…

Read More

4 Tips for Extracting RNA from Unfriendly Tissues

Some tissues are tricky to work with. This truth was lost on me in the early years of grad school because I worked with liver samples. If you’re extracting RNA from liver samples, you’re likely not losing sleep over your massive RNA yields. But for the folks doing RNA extractions with less willing donors, such…

Read More

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…

Read More

5 DNA Ligation Tips

DNA ligations can be frustrating. Sometimes they don’t work for no obvious reason. Our top 5 DNA ligation tips should improve the efficiency of your ligations, and will hopefully increase your cloning success rate! 1. Aliquot the ligase buffer The ATP in the ligase buffer is essential for the DNA ligation reaction, but is broken down…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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.

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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.

Read More

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…

Read More

What’s The Problem With Ampicillin Selection?

Ever wonder what those small colonies, like satellites, surrounding a larger E. coli colony on your LB with ampicillin plates were? Or why, when you picked that colony, it never had the plasmid you just transformed? Well, it’s because those satellite colonies are “protected” from the ampicillin by the big colony. Read on for more… Ampicillin…

Read More

There’s No Need To Be Paranoid About RNA Purification

RNA purification may be a common procedure in molecular biology but it is by far the one that people fear most. Why? Dreaded RNase. It’s everywhere… all over your bench and pipettes, and floating in the air, waiting for the chance to creep into your prep, shred your RNA into nucleotides, and ruin a day’s…

Read More

Strengths and limitations of your Nanodrop

Quantifying a DNA, RNA or protein sample concentration is now as easy as a click of the pipette, a push of a button and a dab of tissue to clean up. Here’s what you need to know about a few of the strengths and limitations of your Nanodrop – before you set up. Take a…

Read More

Get Your Clone 90% Of The Time with Ligation Independent Cloning

Are you stuck in cloning hell?, Tired of doing ligations that don’t work? Want a faster, more efficient cloning procedure? You should try ligation independent cloning. A growing number of researchers swear by ligation independent cloning methods because they are simpler and more efficient than conventional cloning and as a recent convert to their ranks,…

Read More
Scroll To Top