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Clin Chem. 1989 Sep;35(9):1826-31.

Quantitative assays based on the use of replicatable hybridization probes.

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Centro de Investigación sobre Ingeniería Genética y Biotecnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Morelos.


Amplifiable hybridization probes--molecules with a probe sequence embedded within the sequence of a replicatable RNA--will promote the development of sensitive clinical assays. To demonstrate their utility, we prepared a recombinant RNA that contained a 30-nucleotide-long probe complementary to a conserved region of the pol gene in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) mRNA. Test samples were prepared, each containing a different number of HIV-1 transcripts that served as simulated HIV-1 mRNA targets. Hybridizations were carried out in a solution containing the chaotropic salt, guanidine thiocyanate. Probe-target hybrids were isolated by reversible target capture on paramagnetic particles. The probes were then released from their targets and amplified by incubation with the RNA-directed RNA polymerase, Q beta replicase (EC The replicase copied the probes in an exponential manner: after each round of copying, the number of RNA molecules doubled. The amount of RNA synthesized in each reaction (approximately 50 ng) was sufficient to measure without using radioisotopes. Kinetic analysis of the reactions demonstrated that the number of HIV-1 targets originally present in each sample could be determined by measuring the time it took to synthesize a particular amount of RNA (the longer the synthesis took, the fewer the number of targets originally present). The results suggest that clinical assays involving replicatable hybridization probes will be simple, accurate, sensitive, and automatable.

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