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E. L. Lewis and A. M. Leconte. in press. DNA polymerase activity assay using near-infrared fluorscent labeled DNA visualized by acrylamide gel electrophoresis. Journal of Visualized Experiments : . Full Article

For any enzyme, robust, quantitative methods are required for characterization of both native and engineered enzymes. For DNA polymerases, DNA synthesis can be characterized using an in vitro DNA synthesis assay followed by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The goal of this assay is to quantify synthesis of both natural DNA and modified DNA (M-DNA). These approaches are particularly useful for resolving oligonucleotides with single nucleotide resolution, enabling observation of individual steps during enzymatic oligonucleotide synthesis. These methods have been applied to the evaluation of an array of biochemical and biophysical properties such as the measurement of steady-state rate constants of individual steps of DNA synthesis, the error rate of DNA synthesis, and DNA binding affinity. By using modified components including, but not limited to, modified nucleoside triphosphates (NTP), M-DNA, and/or mutant DNA polymerases, the relative utility of substrate-DNA polymerase pairs can be effectively evaluated. Here, we detail the assay itself, including the changes that must be made to accommodate nontraditional primer DNA labeling strategies such as near-infrared fluorescently labeled DNA. Additionally, we have detailed crucial technical steps for acrylamide gel pouring and running, which can often be technically challenging.

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