beta-mercaptoethanol and transfromation

David F. Spencer dspencer at
Wed Jul 30 13:42:52 EST 1997

In article <khan-2407970005140001 at>,
khan at (ilyas m khan) wrote:

> In article <Mail.1.001313A5 at>, Mail at wrote:
> > Hi!,
> >         Can I know the role of beta-mercatoethanol in trasformation of
> E.coli? 
> > Regards
> > Geetha
> bloody good question! I once asked my supervisor the exactly the same
> question, his reply was that during knocking up a protocol for
> transformation the scientists responsible used to chuck in whatever came
> to hand, b-mercaptoethanol being one example, and generally seeing if
> transformation effciencies increased, which they did in the case of this
> particular chemical. He assures me he's not kidding! Besides it has the
> aura of truth in that having spent three years completeing a Phd project
> and having most of my cherished ideals about what science is summarily
> chucked out of the window, it would not suprise in the least! I hope you
> can sleep at little easier now!
> p.s. b-mercaptoethanol as you probably know is a potent reducng agent and
> therefore may affect a membrane protein thus faclitating enhanced
> transport of plasmids into the coli. (sounds better, but probably not
> true)
>                                                          ilyas

The best, indeed as far as I'm aware the only, detailed in-depth study of
transformation of E.coli is found in:

Hanahan, D. Studies on Transformation of Escherichia coli with Plasmids,
J. Mol. Biol. 166 : 557-580 (1983)

If you are interested in this topic read this paper.

Hanahan has an excellent chapter 'Techniques for Transformation of E. coli' in
the book 'DNA Cloning, volume 1', 'a practical approach', edited by D.M. Glover,
IRL Press (1985).

David F. Spencer

David F. Spencer, PhD
Dept. Of Biochemistry
Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia

dspencer at
dspencer at

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