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J Mol Diagn. 2007 Jul;9(3):315-9.

Design, development, validation, and use of synthetic nucleic acid controls for diagnostic purposes and application to cystic fibrosis testing.

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Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, Sacred Heart Medical Center Spokane, Spokane, WA 99204, USA.


We have designed, tested, and validated synthetic DNA molecules that may be used as reference standard controls in the simultaneous detection of mutations in one or more genes. These controls consist of a mixture of oligonucleotides (100 to 120 bases long) each designed for the detection of one or more disease-causing mutation(s), depending on the proximity of the mutations to one another. Each control molecule is identical to 80 to 100 bases that span the targeted mutations. In addition, each oligonucleotide is tagged at the 5' and 3' ends with distinct nucleic acid sequences that allow for the design of complementary primers for polymerase chain reaction amplification. We designed the tags to amplify control molecules comprising 32 CFTR mutations, including the American College of Medical Genetics minimum carrier screening panel of 23, with one pair of primers in a single tube. We tested the performance of these controls on many platforms including the Applied Biosystems/Celera oligonucleotide ligation assay and the Tm Bioscience Tag-It platforms. All 32 mutations were detected consistently. This simple methodology allows for maximum flexibility and rapid implementation. It has not escaped our notice that the design of these molecules makes possible the production of similar controls for virtually any mutation or sequence of interest.

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