A technique to randomise consecutive codons in a sequence of DNA using MAX oligonucleotides

  • Mohammed Ashraf

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Randomisation of DNA using conventional methodology requires an excess of genes to be cloned, since with randomised codons NNN or NNG/T 64 genes or 32 genes must be cloned to encode 20 amino acids respectively. Thus, as the number of randomised codons increases, the number of genes required to encode a full set of proteins increases exponentially. Various methods have been developed that address the problems associated with excess of genes that occurs due to the degeneracy of the genetic code. These range from chemical methodologies to biological methods. These all involve the replacement, insertion or deletion of codon(s) rather than individual nucleotides. The biological methods are however limited to random insertion/deletion or replacement. Recent work by Hughes et al., (2003) has randomised three binding residues of a zinc finger gene. The drawback with this is the fact that consecutive codons cannot undergo saturation mutagenesis. This thesis describes the development of a method of saturation mutagenesis that can be used to randomise any number of consecutive codons in a DNA strand. The method makes use of “MAX” oligonucleotides coding for each of the 20 amino acids that are ligated to a conserved sequence of DNA using T4 DNA ligase. The “MAX” oligonucleotides were synthesised in such a way, with an MlyI restriction site, that restriction of the oligonucleotides occurred after the three nucleotides coding for the amino acids. This use of the MlyI site and the restrict, purify, ligate and amplify method allows the insertion of “MAX” codons at any position in the DNA. This methodology reduces the number of clones that are required to produce a representative library and has been demonstrated to be effective to 7 amino acid positions.
Date of Award2006
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAnna V. Hine (Supervisor)


  • randomise consecutive codons
  • sequence. DNA
  • MAX oligonucleotides

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