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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Methodology article

A one-step cloning method for the construction of somatic cell gene targeting vectors: application to production of human knockout cell lines

Yi Liu, Shangze Li, Huihui Zhang, Zurong Wan, Xiaodong Zhang and Runlei Du*

Author Affiliations

College of Life Sciences, Wuhan University, Wuhan, Hubei, PR China

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BMC Biotechnology 2012, 12:71  doi:10.1186/1472-6750-12-71

Published: 9 October 2012



Gene targeting is a powerful method that can be used for examining the functions of genes. Traditionally, the construction of knockout (KO) vectors requires an amplification step to obtain two homologous, large fragments of genomic DNA. Restriction enzymes that cut at unique recognitions sites and numerous cloning steps are then carried out; this is often a time-consuming and frustrating process.


We have developed a one-step cloning method for the insertion of two arms into a KO vector using exonuclease III. We modified an adeno-associated virus KO shuttle vector (pTK-LoxP-NEO-AAV) to yield pAAV-LIC, which contained two cassettes at the two multiple-cloning sites. The vector was digested with EcoRV to give two fragments. The two homologous arms, which had an overlap of 16 bases with the ends of the vector fragments, were amplified by polymerase chain reaction. After purification, the four fragments were mixed and treated with exonuclease III, then transformed into Escherichia coli to obtain the desired clones. Using this method, we constructed SirT1 and HDAC2 KO vectors, which were used to establish SirT1 KO cells from the colorectal cancer cell line (HCT116) and HDAC2 KO cells from the colorectal cancer cell line (DLD1).


Our method is a fast, simple, and efficient technique for cloning, and has great potential for high-throughput construction of KO vectors.