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J Immunol Methods. 1995 Dec 1;187(2):201-11.

Mathematical considerations of competitive polymerase chain reaction.

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Rheumatology Unit, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide, Australia.


Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is used frequently to monitor gene expression. It is generally regarded as a qualitative technique, although refinements have been made to improve quantification. The object of this study was to develop competitive PCRs to allow reliable quantification of the rat T cell cytokines interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interleukin-4 (IL-4). Truncated constructs of cDNA for these cytokines were prepared using appropriate pairs of standard and specially constructed primers designed to allow subsequent co-amplification of the purified competitor construct and the target cDNA. A high resolution capillary electrophoresis (CE) system was used for PCR product detection. The performance of the system was compared with a mathematical model that describes and predicts the exponential nature of the PCR reaction. Co-amplification of the competitor and target were achieved. A high level of resolution and accuracy was achieved using CE to detect and quantify the PCR products. The rates of generation of the respective products conformed closely but not exactly to the predictions of the mathematical model. The competitive PCRs estimated initial numbers of target cDNA within 1.1-5.0-fold relative to the amount of starting material as assessed by conventional spectrophotometric absorbance prior to dilution and amplification. A convenient and flexible competitive PCR strategy has been developed with accurate resolution of products and reliable quantification. Assay variability was far less than biological variability likely to be encountered in experiments investigating immunological responses in rats or other animals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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