Pooling and PCR as a method to combat low frequency gene targeting in mouse embryonic stem cells.

Research paper by A C AC Brown, C P CP Lerner, J H JH Graber, D J DJ Shaffer, D C DC Roopenian

Indexed on: 13 Nov '08Published on: 13 Nov '08Published in: Cytotechnology


The introduction of germ line modifications by gene targeting in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells has proven a fundamental technology to relate genes to mammalian biology. Critical aspects required for successful gene targeting have traditionally been experimental enhancements that increase the frequency or detection of homologous recombination within ES cells; however, the utilization of such methods may still result in the failed isolation of a positively targeted ES cell clone. In this study, we discuss the current enhancement methods and describe an ES cell pooling strategy that maximizes the ability to detect properly targeted ES cells regardless of an inherent low targeting efficiency. The sensitivity required to detect correctly targeted events out of a pool of ES cell clones is provided by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and only those pools containing positives need to be expanded and screened to find individually targeted clones. This method made it possible to identify targeted clones from a screen of approximately 2,300 ES cell colonies by performing only 123 PCR reactions. This technically streamlined approach bypasses the need to troubleshoot and re-engineer an existing targeting construct that is functionally suitable despite its low targeting frequency.