MoBio Illustration for Molecular Cloning Chapter 9
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Figure 9-A-1. Procedure for molecular cloning.

1. Both foreign DNA and a plasmid are cut with the same restriction enzyme. The restriction site occurs only once in the plasmid in the middle of a gene for an enzyme (lacZ).

2. The restriction enzyme leaves complementary sticky ends on the foreign DNA fragment and the plasmid. This allows the foreign DNA to be inserted into the plasmid when the sticky ends anneal. Adding DNA ligase reattaches the DNA backbones. These are recombinant plasmids.

3. The plasmids are combined with a culture of living bacteria. Many of the bacteria do not take any plasmids into their cells, many take plasmids that do not have the foreign DNA in them, and a few take up the recombinant plasmid.

4. The bacteria that take up the recombinant plasmid cannot make the enzyme from the gene that the fragment was inserted into (lacZ). They also carry a gene for resistance to the antibiotic ampicillin, which was on the original plasmid.

5. To find the bacteria with the recombinant plasmid, the bacteria are grown on a plate with the antibiotic ampicillin and a substance that changes color when exposed to the enzyme produced by the lacZ gene. The ampicillin will kill any bacteria that did not take up a plasmid. The color of the substance will not change when the gene for lacZ contains the foreign DNA insert. These are the bacteria with the recombinant plasmid that we want to grow.

 

[Source: OpenStax College.]