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Fluorescence correlation analysis of probe diffusion simplifies quantitative pathogen detection by PCR

By Nils G. Walter, Petra Schwille and Manfred Eigen


A sensitive, labor-saving, and easily automatable nonradioactive procedure named APEX-FCS (amplified probe extension detected by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy) has been established to detect specific in vitro amplification of pathogen genomic sequences. As an example, Mycobacterium tuberculosis genomic DNA was subjected to PCR amplification with the Stoffel fragment of Thermus aquaticus DNA polymerase in the presence of nanomolar concentrations of a rhodamine-labeled probe (third primer), binding to the target in between the micromolar amplification primers. The probe becomes extended only when specific amplification occurs. Its low concentration avoids false-positives due to unspecific hybridization under PCR conditions. With increasing portion of extended probe molecules, the probe’s average translational diffusion properties gradually change over the course of the reaction, reflecting amplification kinetics. Following PCR, this change from a stage of high to a stage of low mobility can directly be monitored during a 30-s measurement using a fluorescence correlation spectroscopy device. Quantitation down to 10 target molecules in a background of 2.5 μg unspecific DNA without post-PCR probe manipulations could be achieved with different primer/probe combinations. The assay holds the promise to concurrently perform amplification, probe hybridization, and specific detection without opening the reaction chamber, if sealable foils are used

Topics: Biological Sciences
Publisher: The National Academy of Sciences of the USA
Year: 1996
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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