By Debbie Strickland

Invitrogen Corp. plans to introduce today a system designed to take cloning to the "high-throughput" level.

Dubbed PACE (Process for Accelerated Cloning and Expression), the system has been used to clone all 6,000 yeast genes over the last five months, and to express 1,000 of the genes, or open reading frame clones (ORFs). Invitrogen expects to complete expression testing of the remaining 5,000 by mid-year.

Traditional cloning has been done in a "piecemeal" manner, a few genes at a time, said Lyle Turner, president and CEO. The PACE system allows for "cloning on a genomic scale," largely via high-throughput methods.

The 11-year-old Carlsbad, Calif.-based company develops, makes and markets research tools and services, including those related to cloning and gene expression.

Invitrogen plans to provide pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms access to the PACE technology through a variety of business models, which could include sales, collaborations or joint ventures.

Gene Expression In A Box

The system still has some manual steps to be eliminated before commercialization.

In the meantime, the yeast clones are hitting the market today through a product line called GeneStorm yORF (yeast open reading frame) vectors.

Each yORF has been cloned into both a yeast (pYES2/GS) and a mammalian (pcDNA2.1/GS) expression vector format to allow expression in yeast or mammalian cells, depending on a researcher's requirements.

"We've put gene expression in a box," said Turner.

Invitrogen has now turned to the human genome and is creating hORFs (human open reading frames) for nearly 200 human genes, expected to be available this spring. The first batch of hORFs will include kinases and phosphatases in a mammalian expression vector format. By year-end, the firm plans to release 1,200 human gene clones. *