UNIT 5.5 Conversion of mRNA into Double-Stranded cDNA

  1. Lloyd B. Klickstein1,
  2. Rachael L. Neve2,
  3. Erica A. Golemis3,
  4. Jeno Gyuris4

Published Online: 1 MAY 2001

DOI: 10.1002/0471142727.mb0505s29

Current Protocols in Molecular Biology

Current Protocols in Molecular Biology

How to Cite

Klickstein, L. B., Neve, R. L., Golemis, E. A. and Gyuris, J. 2001. Conversion of mRNA into Double-Stranded cDNA. Current Protocols in Molecular Biology. 29:III:5.5:5.5.1–5.5.14.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts

  2. 2

    McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts

  3. 3

    Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  4. 4

    Mitotix, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 MAY 2001
  2. Published Print: JAN 1995


Enzymatic conversion of mRNA into double-stranded insert DNA can be accomplished by a number of different procedures. All of them involve the action of reverse transcriptase and oligonucleotide-primed synthesis of cDNA. After that, the procedures in common use diverge considerably. There are a number of methods for synthesizing the second strand and several procedures for producing suitable ends for making clonable DNA. The major goals of these procedures are to construct insert DNA that is as long as possible, with a high yield of conversion of mRNA into DNA that can ligate to vector DNA. The following protocols require only commercially available reagents and are usually successful in producing good cDNA libraries. The basic protocol describes a method for making blunt-ended cDNA that can then be ligated to linkers for subsequent cloning into a unique restriction site such as EcoRI. The Alternate Protocol is a variation that requires fewer enzymatic manipulations and allows construction of directional cDNA libraries, which are particularly desirable when the goal is to generate expression cDNA libraries. The Alternate Protocol takes advantage of a linker-primer consisting of (in order from 3' to 5') an oligo(dT) primer, a restriction site for the XhoI endonuclease, and a (GA)20 repeat to protect the restriction site during generation of the blunt-ended cDNA. The internal XhoI sites on the individual cDNA molecules are protected by incorporation of 5-methyl-dCTP in the first-strand nucleotide mix. The resulting cDNAs having unique ends can be cloned into EcoRI /XhoI -digested vectors after ligation of EcoRI adaptors to the 5' end and digestion by XhoI to release the 3' XhoI sites that were incorporated into the cDNA by the linker-primer. These changes result in a considerably streamlined procedure that is substantially faster and easier than the basic protocol.