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DNA Cell Biol. 1991 Apr;10(3):233-8.

The effect of temperature and oligonucleotide primer length on the specificity and efficiency of amplification by the polymerase chain reaction.

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Department of Molecular Biochemistry, Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope, Duarte, CA 91010.


The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is most effectively performed using a thermostable DNA polymerase such as that isolated from Thermus aquaticus. Since temperature and oligonucleotide length are known to control the specificity of oligonucleotide hybridization, we have investigated the effect of oligonucleotide length, base composition, and the annealing temperature on the specificity and efficiency of amplification by the PCR. Generally, the specificity of PCR is controlled by the length of the oligonucleotide and/or the temperature of annealing of the primer to the template. An empirical relationship between oligonucleotide length and ability to support amplification was determined. This relationship allows for the design of specific oligonucleotide primers. A model is proposed which helps explain the observed dependence of PCR on annealing temperature and length of the primer.

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