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Gene. 1998 May 12;211(2):277-85.

Amplification of target-specific, ligation-dependent circular probe.

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The Lillian, Henry M. Stratton-Hans Popper Department of Pathology, Department of Otolaryngology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029, USA.


We describe a novel polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based gene amplification method utilizing a circularizable oligodeoxyribonucleotide probe (C-probe). The C-probe contains two target complementary regions located at each terminus and an interposed generic PCR primer binding region. The hybridization of C-probe to a target brings two termini in direct apposition as the complementary regions of C-probe wind around the target to form a double helix. Subsequent ligation of the two termini results in a covalently linked C-probe that becomes 'locked on to' the target. The circular nature of the C-probe allows for the generation of a multimeric single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) via extension of the antisense primer by Taq DNA polymerase along the C-probe and displacement of downstream strand, analogous to 'rolling circle' replication of bacteriophage in vivo. This multimeric ssDNA then serves as a template for multiple sense primers to hybridize, extend, and displace downstream DNA, generating a large ramified (branching) DNA complex. Subsequent thermocycling denatures the dsDNA and initiates the next round of primer extension and ramification. This model results in significantly improved amplification kinetics (super-exponential) as compared to conventional PCR. Our results show that the C-probe was 1000 times more sensitive than the corresponding linear hemiprobes for detecting Epstein-Barr virus early RNA. The C-probe not only increases the power of amplification but also offers a means for decontaminating carryover amplicons. As the ligated C-probes possess no free termini, they are resistant to exonuclease digestion, whereas contaminated linear amplicons are susceptible to digestion. Treatment of the ligation reaction mixture with exonuclease prior to amplification eliminated the amplicon contaminant, which could also have been co-amplified with the same PCR primers; only the ligated C-probes were amplified. The combined advantages of the C-probe and thermocycling have a broad applicability for the detection of both DNA and RNA. Finally, we described a novel isothermal amplification method, ramification extension amplification, utilizing circular nature of C-probe and displacement activity of DNA polymerase.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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