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Characterizing Cre/lox Recombination Method

Mechanism behind Cre/lox Recombination

The Cre-lox tool is a site-specific recombination system that is widely used in biological research to manipulate DNA. It was discovered in the early 90's through characterization of coliphage P1 recombination system. The Cre recombinase enzyme, a 38kDa protein, catalyzes the recombination of DNA between two lox sites. These lox sites, each 34 bp long, consist of two inverted repeat arms flanking a spacer region of 8bp that is unique to the lox site.


Designing Lox Sites

In order to randomly "select objects" for the knapsack problem, we used the Cre-lox recombination method of excision and inversion. We needed a set of variant lox sites in order to create constructs that would yield different subsets of survival and fluorescence to optimally fill the knapsack. These variant lox sites have mutations specific to the 8bp spacer region and do not recombine. We created 10 new lox sites with mutations in the 8 bp region: loxN Forward and Reverse, loxm2 Forward and Reverse, lox2272 Forward and Reverse, lox5171 Forward and Reverse, and loxBri Forward and Reverse. In addition, we added the wildtype loxP Reverse to the registry.

We floxed red fluorescent protein with these variant lox sites using 16 out of the 21 combinations of the 5 lox forward variants to see immediately if recombination occurred in the presence of Cre. These constructs below follow a moderate promoter, pTet. The key for the constructs is above and colors refer to specific lox sites.

Would you like a bagel with all that lox?

Knapsack Construct Models

We designed five different construct models that could potentially us to a biological solution to the knapsack problem. These constructs include various lox sites, a reporter fluorescent protein, and a TetA gene that has an upper and lower threshold of expression in order to survive, thus providing a means to find "objects" (subset of modules) with the correct "weight" (expression of TetA).

Version A: Allows inversion and excision within and over multiple modules.

Version B: Allows only excision within and over multiple modules.

Version C: Only allows flipping within modules. Requires only 3 different Lox sites.

Version D: Only allows inversion within modules. Requires "n" different Lox sites.

Version E: Initially only allows flipping over multiple modules, then allows cutting and flipping over multiple modules.