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Nucleic Acids Res. 1998 Jul 15; 26(14): 3340–3347.
PMCID: PMC147702

Localised sequence regions possessing high melting temperatures prevent the amplification of a DNA mimic in competitive PCR.


The polymerase chain reaction is an immensely powerful technique for identification and detection purposes. Increasingly, competitive PCR is being used as the basis for quantification. However, sequence length, melting temperature and primary sequence have all been shown to influence the efficiency of amplification in PCR systems and may therefore compromise the required equivalent co-amplification of target and mimic in competitive PCR. The work discussed here not only illustrates the need to balance length and melting temperature when designing a competitive PCR assay, but also emphasises the importance of careful examination of sequences for GC-rich domains and other sequences giving rise to stable secondary structures which could reduce the efficiency of amplification by serving as pause or termination sites. We present data confirming that under particular circumstances such localised sequence, high melting temperature regions can act as permanent termination sites, and offer an explanation for the severity of this effect which results in prevention of amplification of a DNA mimic in competitive PCR. It is also demonstrated that when Taq DNA polymerase is used in the presence of betaine or a proof reading enzyme, the effect may be reduced or eliminated.

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Selected References

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