Oligonucleotides are almost exclusively synthesized using the nucleoside phosphoramidite method, even though it is limited to the direct synthesis of ∼200 mers and produces hazardous waste. Here, we describe an oligonucleotide synthesis strategy that uses the template-independent polymerase terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT). Each TdT molecule is conjugated to a single deoxyribonucleoside triphosphate (dNTP) molecule that it can incorporate into a primer. After incorporation of the tethered dNTP, the 3′ end of the primer remains covalently bound to TdT and is inaccessible to other TdT–dNTP molecules. Cleaving the linkage between TdT and the incorporated nucleotide releases the primer and allows subsequent extension. We demonstrate that TdT–dNTP conjugates can quantitatively extend a primer by a single nucleotide in 10–20 s, and that the scheme can be iterated to write a defined sequence. This approach may form the basis of an enzymatic oligonucleotide synthesizer.
Access optionsAccess options
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $20.83 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Protein Data Bank
We thank S. Sehgal, A.K. Sreekumar, E. Baidoo, C.J. Petzold, L. Chan, and V. Teixeira Benites for assistance with experiments, G. Goyal, J. Chiniquy, and N. Kaplan for NGS of the synthesis products, C. Hoover for optimizing the NGS procedure, P.D. Adams, C.J. Joshua, J.F. Barajas, M.E. Brown, C.B. Eiben, A. Flamholz, A. Tambe, B. Wagner, S. Weißgraeber, P. Weißgraeber, S. Jager, and R. Palluk for helpful discussions, and E. de Ugarte for assistance with artwork. This work has been supported by the DOE Joint BioEnergy Institute (https://www.jbei.org) by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research, through contract DE-AC02-05CH11231 between Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the US Department of Energy. D.H.A. was also supported by the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC) through National Science Foundation grant NSF EEC 0540879 and by NIH training grant GM-08295 through NIGMS. T.d.R. was supported by ERASynBio (81861: “SynPath”). N.J.H. was also supported by the DOE Joint Genome Institute (https://jgi.doe.gov) by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research, through contract DE-AC02-05CH11231 between Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the US Department of Energy. Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory managed and operated by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc. for the US Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration under contract DE-NA0003525. The United States Government retains and the publisher, by accepting the article for publication, acknowledges that the United States Government retains, a nonexclusive, paid-up, irrevocable, worldwide license to publish or reproduce the published form of this manuscript, or allow others to do so, for United States Government purposes. The Department of Energy will provide public access to these results of federally sponsored research in accordance with the DOE Public Access Plan (http://energy.gov/downloads/doe-public-access-plan).