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Genomics. 1991 Oct;11(2):324-33.

PCR amplification of chromosome-specific alpha satellite DNA: definition of centromeric STS markers and polymorphic analysis.

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Department of Genetics, Stanford University, California 94305.


Alpha satellite DNA is a tandemly repetitive DNA family found at the centromere of every human chromosome. Chromosome-specific subsets have been isolated for over half the chromosomes and have prove useful as markers for both genetic and physical mapping. We have developed specific oligonucleotide primer sets for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of alpha satellite DNA from chromosomes 3, 7, 13/21, 17, X, and Y. For each set of primers, PCR products amplified from human genomic DNA are specific for the centromere of the target chromosome(s), as shown by somatic cell hybrid mapping and by fluorescence in situ hybridization. These six subsets represent several evolutionarily related alpha satellite subfamilies, suggesting that specific primer pairs can be designed for most or all chromosomal subsets in the genome. The PCR products from chromosome 17 directly reveal the polymorphic nature of this subset, and a new DraI polymorphism is described. The PCR products from chromosome 13 are also polymorphic, allowing in informative cases genetic analysis of this centromeric subset distinguished from the highly homologous chromosome 21 subset. These primer sets should allow placement of individual centromeres on the proposed STS map of the human genome and may be useful for somatic cell hybrid characterization and for making in situ probes. In addition, the ability to amplify chromosome-specific repetitive DNA families directly will contribute to the structural and functional analysis of these abundant classes of DNA.

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