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Nucleic Acids Res. 2010 Jun;38(11):e121. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkq039. Epub 2010 Mar 17.

Evaluating oligonucleotide properties for DNA microarray probe design.

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  • 1Lechner-Haag Genomics Core, Vaccine Research Institute of San Diego, 10835 Road to the Cure, Suite 150, San Diego, CA 92121, USA. xqxia70@gmail.com


Most current microarray oligonucleotide probe design strategies are based on probe design factors (PDFs), which include probe hybridization free energy (PHFE), probe minimum folding energy (PMFE), dimer score, hairpin score, homology score and complexity score. The impact of these PDFs on probe performance was evaluated using four sets of microarray comparative genome hybridization (aCGH) data, which included two array manufacturing methods and the genomes of two species. Since most of the hybridizing DNA is equimolar in CGH data, such data are ideal for testing the general hybridization properties of almost all candidate oligonucleotides. In all our data sets, PDFs related to probe secondary structure (PMFE, hairpin score and dimer score) are the most significant factors linearly correlated with probe hybridization intensities. PHFE, homology and complexity score are correlating significantly with probe specificities, but in a non-linear fashion. We developed a new PDF, pseudo probe binding energy (PPBE), by iteratively fitting dinucleotide positional weights and dinucleotide stacking energies until the average residue sum of squares for the model was minimized. PPBE showed a better correlation with probe sensitivity and a better specificity than all other PDFs, although training data are required to construct a PPBE model prior to designing new oligonucleotide probes. The physical properties that are measured by PPBE are as yet unknown but include a platform-dependent component. A practical way to use these PDFs for probe design is to set cutoff thresholds to filter out bad quality probes. Programs and correlation parameters from this study are freely available to facilitate the design of DNA microarray oligonucleotide probes.

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