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Plasmids 101: What is a plasmid?

Posted by Margo R. Monroe on Jan 14, 2014 9:43:00 AM

Any newcomer who joins a molecular biology lab will undoubtedly be asked to design, modify, or construct a plasmid. Although the newcomer likely knows that a plasmid is a small circular piece of DNA found in bacterial cells, she may need some extra guidance to understand the specific components that make up a plasmid and why each is important.

This post - the first in our new “Plasmids 101” series designed to educate all levels of scientists and plasmid lovers - serves as an introduction to plasmids. Plasmids 101 will provide you with an overview of general molecular biology knowledge and techniques, and empower you with a firm understanding of the fundamentals. Our mission is to curate a one-stop reference guide for plasmids, so that you can spend less time researching the basics and spend more time developing cleverly designed experiments and innovative solutions necessary for advancing the field.


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Topics: Plasmid How To, Plasmid Technology, Plasmids 101

The 10 Most Distributed Plasmid Technologies in Addgene's First 10 Years

Posted by Melina Fan on Jan 8, 2014 10:10:30 AM

Addgene was founded 10 years ago today. In that time, Addgene has shipped over 350,000 individual plasmids to 5,000 different research institutions. This has given us a unique window into technology trends in the life sciences.

In this post, we'll give you an inside look at the Top 10 plasmid technologies distributed through Addgene over our first 10 years.

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Hot Plasmids, Scientific Sharing, Inside Addgene, Plasmid Kits

Using CRISPR/Cas9 to Edit Disease Out of the Genome

Posted by Kendall Morgan on Jan 7, 2014 10:45:00 AM

There can be no doubt that CRISPR/Cas9 technology has been a breakthrough for the genome-editing field. Now two studies reported in Cell Stem Cell last month show that this tool - already so useful in the laboratory - might also find its way to the clinic.

A team led by Jinsong Li from the Chinese Academy of Sciences found that mice with a dominant mutation in a gene that causes cataracts could be rescued by coinjection into zygotes of Cas9 mRNA and a single-guide RNA targeting the mutant allele. An independent team led by Hans Clevers at Hubrecht Institute in The Netherlands used the CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing system to correct the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductor receptor (CFTR) by homologous recombination in cultured intestinal stem cells of patients with cystic fibrosis.

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Genome Engineering, CRISPR

Drew Endy Introduces the Biobrick Public Agreement Plasmid Collection

Posted by Kendall Morgan on Dec 12, 2013 10:35:00 AM

Drew Endy's lab at Stanford develops engineered DNA systems capable of storing data and computing inside living cells. He's also a co-founder of the BioBricks Foundation, an organization working to advance biological engineering openly so as to benefit all people and the planet. For his many efforts in open science, Endy was recognized earlier this year by the White House as a Champion of Change, a program created as part of President Barack Obama's Winning the Future Initiative.

Endy's team made news in March with a publication in Science describing the development of “transcriptors,” transistor-like digital genetic switches that enable cellular computing. These logic gates built from transcriptors are now available at Addgene through the Biobrick Public Agreement (BPA) Plasmid Collection along with a BIOFAB kit comprised of well-characterized bacterial transcription and translation initiation elements.

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Interview, Investigator Feature, Synthetic Biology, Plasmid Kits

Kiran Musunuru on the Newest TALEN Genome-Editing System

Posted by Kendall Morgan on Dec 10, 2013 10:13:00 AM

The goal of Kiran Musunuru's lab in Harvard's Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology is to understand the basis for cardiovascular and metabolic human diseases. They do that by studying patients to uncover new gene variants associated with conditions of interest, then studying those variants in model systems: either human cells or mice.

In a recent issue of Cell Stem Cell, Musunuru, Chad Cowan and their colleagues describe a much more efficient tool for doing that disease modeling work in human pluripotent stem cells: a transcription activator-like effector nuclease (TALEN) kit consisting of 834 plasmids. The researchers showed they could use their TALEN kit to quickly and efficiently generate human stem cells edited to carry mutant versions of 15 different disease-associated genes.

Addgene spoke to Musunuru about how the new kit works, the research the kit now makes possible, and how it compares to his CRISPR/Cas9 system.

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Genome Engineering, Interview, Investigator Feature, Plasmid Kits

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