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Biotechniques. 2000 Dec;29(6):1296-300, 1302-4, 1306 passim.

Semiautomated clone verification by real-time PCR using molecular beacons.

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  • 1Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY, USA.


Conventional, high-throughput PCR analysis of common elements utilizing numerous primer sets and template DNA requires multiple rounds of PCR to ensure optimal conditions. Laborious gel electrophoresis and staining is then necessary to visualize amplification products. We propose novel multicolor molecular beacons, to establish a high-throughput, PCR-based sequence tagged site (STS) detection system that swiftly and accurately confirms marker content in template containing common repeat elements. A simple, one-tube, real-time PCR assay system was developed to specifically detect regions containing CA and GATA repeats. Ninety-six samples can be confirmed for marker content in a closed-tube format in 3 h, eliminating product confirmation on agarose gels and avoiding crossover contamination. Multiple STSs can be detected simultaneously in the same reaction tube by utilizing molecular beacons labeled with multicolor fluorophores. Template DNA from 260 RPCI-11 bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clones was examined for the presence of CA and/or GATA repeats using molecular beacon PCR and compared with conventional PCR results of the same clones. Of the 205 clones containing CA and GATA repeats, we were able to identify 129 clones (CA, n = 99; GATA, n = 30) by using molecular beacons and only 121 clones (CA, n = 92; GATA, n = 29) by conventional PCR amplification. As anticipated, 55 clones that contained sequences other than CA or GATA failed molecular beacon detection. Molecular beacon PCR, employing beacons specific for tandem repeat elements, provides a fast, accurate, and sensitive multiplex detection assay that will expedite verification of marker content in a multitude of template containing these repeats.

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