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Electrophoresis. 2010 Apr;31(8):1322-9. doi: 10.1002/elps.200900631.

Template tailoring: Accurate determination of heterozygous alleles using peptide nucleic acid and dideoxyNTP.

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  • 1Biomolecular Engineering, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA, USA.


Measurement of the length of DNA fragments plays a pivotal role in genetic mapping, disease diagnostics, human identification and forensic applications. PCR followed by electrophoresis is used for DNA length measurement of STRs, a process that requires labeled primers and allelic ladders as standards to avoid machine error. Sequencing-based approaches can be used for STR analysis to eliminate the requirement of labeled primers and allelic ladder. However, the limiting factor with this approach is unsynchronized polymerization in heterozygous sample analysis, in which alleles with different lengths can lead to imbalanced heterozygote peak height ratios. We have developed a rapid DNA length measurement method using peptide nucleic acid and dideoxy dNTPs to "tailor" DNA templates for accurate sequencing to overcome this hurdle. We also devised an accelerated "dyad" pyrosequencing strategy, such that the combined approach can be used as a faster, more accurate alternative to de novo sequencing. Dyad sequencing interrogates two bases at a time by allowing the polymerase to incorporate two nucleotides to DNA template, cutting the analysis time in half. In addition, for the first time, we show the effect of peptide nucleic acid as a blocking probe to stop polymerization, which is essential to analyze the heterozygous samples by sequencing. This approach provides a new platform for rapid and cost-effective DNA length measurement for STRs and resequencing of small DNA fragments.

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