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Expert Rev Mol Diagn. 2005 Sep;5(5):809-15.

Single-molecule PCR: an artifact-free PCR approach for the analysis of somatic mutations.

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Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center & Harvard Medical School, 21-27 Burlington Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


A critical review of the clone-by-clone approach to the analysis of complex spectra of somatic mutations is presented. The study of a priori unknown somatic mutations requires painstaking analysis of complex mixtures of multiple mutant and non-mutant DNA molecules. If mutant fractions are sufficiently high, these mixtures can be dissected by the cloning of individual DNA molecules and scanning of the individual clones for mutations (e.g., by sequencing). Currently, the majority of such cloning is performed using PCR fragments. However, post-PCR cloning may result in various PCR artifacts - PCR errors and jumping PCR - and preferential amplification of certain mutations. This review argues that single-molecule PCR is a simple alternative that promises to evade the disadvantages inherent to post-PCR cloning and enhance mutational analysis in the future.

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