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Genet Test. 2003 Winter;7(4):277-81.

Comparison of PCR-RFLP with allele-specific PCR in genetic testing for spinal muscular atrophy.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Harvard Medical School, and Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA. bai-lin.wu@tch.harvard.edu


PCR-based methods for the detection of homozygous deletion of exon 7 of the SMN1 gene have been widely used in genetic testing for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). We compared the most commonly used PCRrestriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) assay with an allele-specific PCR method, evaluating their potential application in direct testing, prenatal prediction, and preimplantation diagnosis, in terms of a range of DNA amounts used in such testing. We showed that PCR-RFLP could identify the SMN1 exon 7 by amplifying 10 pg of genomic DNA, and could differentiate SMN1 from SMN2 at the 100-pg DNA level (DraIdigested SMN2 fragments served as an internal control for PCR efficiency). In contrast, allele-specific PCR for SMN1, despite some advantages in a rapid preimplantation diagnosis, quickly lost its specificity when 100 pg of genomic DNA was used. In addition, the absence of a SMN1 fragment at the 10-pg DNA level may be due to a PCR amplification failure, and, thus, it is difficult to interpret without a proper internal control. Our data indicate that PCR-RFLP can be used for most diagnostic purposes, whereas the use of allelespecific PCR may be considered with caution under certain circumstances.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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