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Biotechniques. 2009 Oct;47(4):867-9. doi: 10.2144/000113222.

Using phiX174 DNA as an exogenous reference for measuring mitochondrial DNA copy number.

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  • 1Division of Genetic and Reproductive Toxicology, National Center for Toxicological Research, US Food and Drug Administration, Jefferson, AR 72079, USA.


Quantitative real-time PCR has become a popular method to analyze and quantify changes in the copy number of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), and nuclear DNA (nDNA) is often used as an endogenous reference for mtDNA abundance. In our experience, using nDNA as a reference is problematic, due to differences in the extraction efficiency of nDNA and mtDNA and variation in the ploidy of experimental samples. Here, we report that the ratio of mtDNA to nDNA varies in repeated DNA extractions but that PhiX174 DNA, added before DNA extraction, is extracted with a similar efficiency to mtDNA, making it a suitable alternative reference for quantifying mtDNA copy number.

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