Development of the MAX randomisation technique
During the last decade the use of randomised gene libraries has had an enormous impact in the field of protein engineering. Such libraries comprise many variations of a single gene in which codon replacements are used to substitute key residues of the encoded protein. The expression of such libraries generates a library of randomised proteins which can subsequently be screened for desired or novel activities. Randomisation in this fashion has predominantly been achieved by the inclusion of the codons NNN or NNGCor T, in which N represents any of the four bases A,C,G, or T. The use of thesis codons however, necessities the cloning of redundant codons at each position of randomisation, in addition to those required to encode the twenty possible amino acid substitutions. As degenerate codons must be included at each position of randomisation, this results in a progressive loss of randomisation efficiency as the number of randomised positions is increased. The ratio of genes to proteins in these libraries rises exponentially with each position of randomisation, creating large gene libraries, which generate protein libraries of limited diversity upon expression. In addition to these problems of library size, the cloning of redundant codons also results in the generation of protein libraries in which substituted amino acids are unevenly represented. As several of the randomised codons may encode the same amino acid, for example serine which is encoded six time using the codon NNN, an inherent bias may be introduced into the resulting protein library during the randomisation procedure. The work outlined here describes the development of a novel randomisation technique aimed at a eliminating codon redundancy from randomised gene libraries, thus addressing the problems of library size and bias, associated with the cloning of redundant codons.