amazing stability of restriction enzymes

Michael L. Sullivan mlsulliv at
Wed Jun 20 14:45:01 EST 2001

Thanks for the interesting info.  I (and I'm sure lots of others) have
always been under the impression that restriction enzymes are so delicate
they will surely lose activity if we look at them the the wrong way, since
most of the people who taught me were so paranoid about even having enzymes
at ice temp for more than a few min.

Perhaps in the early days, RE preparations were not so stable as they are
today, and hence the paranoia that has been perpetuated.


>this is nothing new.
>Biotechniques 2000 Sep;29(3):536-8
>Extended stability of restriction enzymes at ambient temperatures.
>Clark J, Harrison JC, Mdegela RH, March JB.
>Moredun Research Institute, Penicuik, Scotland, UK.
>The stability of restriction enzymes as supplied by manufacturers without
>any modification has been examined. No reduction in activity was observed
>for three enzymes (HindIII, EcoRI and Tsp509I) held at ambient temperature
>or 4 degrees C for the period of study (12 months), while activity was
>observed for up to 12 weeks after storage at 37 degrees C, which was
>considerably better than following desiccation with trehalose, a recognized
>preservation technique. A larger trial of 23 different restriction enzymes
>held at room temperature for one week showed that all enzymes retained
>significant activity. As a practical demonstration of the usefulness of this
>finding, enzymes were posted to Africa by conventional mail (cost $1 US) and
>shown to retain activity upon arrival after three weeks in transit (compared
>to a cost of $1000 US by cold-chain transportation). Supplying enzymes to
>third-world markets should now be possible by removing the necessity for
>cold-chain transport. After arrival, enzymes can simply be stored in a
>standard domestic refrigerator.


More information about the Methods mailing list