plasmid request etiquette

I’m wondering what the standard etiquette is for requesting plasmids from other labs - specifically - if in the publication several
promoters are used for cell-specific gene rescue, is it reasonable to request all or the majority of the plasmids or should you only request
1 of them and then sub-clone other promoters yourself? What do you think?

In general, by publishing a reagent they’re committing themselves to distribute it to reasonable recipients (ie researchers who can use the reagents, as opposed to possible cranks), unless there are issues about depletion of an irreplaceable reagent (a polyclonal antibody, for example). Yes, a large request can be a hassle - but you wouldn’t be requesting those unless you actually wanted to use them, right? Why should you re-do the work, when they’ve already made it and already committed to distribute it?

There are of course all sorts of variations and details - they may request that you, having received the reagent, commit to sending it on to the next person to request it. They may request that you pay for shipping (indeed, it’s only polite to offer, although a plasmid doesn’t need express service and so can be sent too cheaply to bother). You may be requesting unpublished reagents, in which case they have every right to refuse the request, especially if it’s a hassle to fulfill; this is why it’s always best to cite the specific paper, in as detailed a manner as you can. And, sadly, they may not be able to fulfill the request - maybe a student who left their lab a decade ago made the constructs, and left behind a couple of poorly labeled freezer boxes. But, in general, they’ve gotten a paper out of that reagent, and they’ve committed to share it for reasonable noncommercial uses; they may even be fairly happy to see someone getting enthusiastic enough about their approach to follow it up extensively.

(Having said all that, I recall that Roger Tsien’s lab, which is no doubt bombarded with innumerable requests for plasmids encoding various fluorophore constructs, limited requests to three or perhaps four plasmids at a go - but I don’t know how strictly they enforced this rule).

Hillel couldn’t have summed it up more nicely. Also, make sure to check Addgene to see if they deposited their stuff there too!

As usual, What Hillel and Snug Said. However, also know that not all investigators are equally good at: 1) responding to you about your request; 2) getting it to you in a timely manner; and 3) sending along the accompanying information in print or by email. Some PIs are great, and get back to you right away with everything you could hope for. Others never get back to your requests if you send them as a student or postdoc, although an email or call from a PI can be more successful. Don’t be afraid to send a follow-up a week or so later if you don’t hear anything, and if that fails, ask your boss to do it if you have such a person. Again, be as specific as possible and as nice as possible, and try to tell them in some part why you want the reagents, e.g. what you hope to do. Sometimes you could hear that someone in their lab has tried exactly that and might suggest another approach for some reason if it failed or was unsatisfactory. Advice is sometimes better than the reagent.


this is also worth a look…

kind of from the plasmid repositor’s mouth so to speak.

great find steve!