Original Repository: Stanford University Libraries. Department of Special Collections and University Archives. Paul Berg Papers
Reproduced with permission of Patricia Berg.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Recombinant DNA Technologies and Researchers' Responsibilities, 1973-1980
Letter from Paul Berg to Patricia Berg (February 11, 1974)
February 5, 1974
Dear Dr. Berg,
I am a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Alvin Markovitz at the University of Chicago and would appreciate your opinion on a research
proposal I am considering. Briefly, I would like to test whether the thymidine kinase gene from herpes simplex virus can be
incorporated into a defective [lambda] particle and be produced in multiple copies in E. coli. A segment of HSV DNA obtained
by shearing or by E. coli restriction endonuclease RI would be covalently linked to [lambda] DNA and used to infect sensitized
E. coli ([delta]tdk). I would select for tdk+ cells, purify them and induce [lambda]. The phage DNA would then be purified
and tested for the presence of the thymidine kinase gene.
I realize that there are certain biohazards involved in such a proposal and we would try to minimize them in two ways. First,
the actual work with HSV would be done in the laboratory of Dr. Bernard Roizman, where precautions have been established for
working with HSV. In addition, certain genetic precautions would be taken, e.g., the bacteria could be made streptomycin dependent.
Also phage could used carrying mutations such as s7. Nevertheless, I still have reservations about this type of research,
and Jim Shapiro suggested that perhaps you could tell me the current thinking on this matter.