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Transfus Med Hemother. 2009;36(4):253-262. Epub 2009 Jul 10.

Technologies in the Whole-Genome Age: MALDI-TOF-Based Genotyping.

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Institut für Biochemie, Emil-Fischer-Zentrum, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany.


With the decipherment of the human genome, new questions have moved into the focus of today's research. One key aspect represents the discovery of DNA variations capable to influence gene transcription, RNA splicing, or regulating processes, and their link to pathology. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS) is a powerful tool for the qualitative investigation and relative quantification of variations like single nucleotide polymorphisms, DNA methylation, microsatellite instability, or loss of heterozygosity. After its introduction into proteomics, efforts were made to adopt this technique to DNA analysis. Initially intended for peptide/protein analysis, it held several difficulties for application to nucleic acids. Today, MALDI-TOF-MS has reached worldwide acceptance and application in nucleic acid research, with a wide spectrum of methods being available. One of the most versatile approaches relies on primer extension to genotype single alleles, microsatellite repeat lengths or the methylation status of a given cytosine. Optimized methods comprising intelligent primer design and proper nucleotide selection for primer extension enabled multiplexing of reactions, rendering the analysis more economic due to parallel genotyping of several alleles in a single experiment. Laboratories equipped with MALDI-TOF-MS possess a universal technical platform for the analysis of a large variety of different molecules.

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