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PCR - Polymerase Chain Reaction - Amplifying the desired DNA

10:21 PM 0 Comments »
PCR principles and procedure

PCR is used to amplify specific regions of a DNA strand (the DNA target). This can be a single gene, a part of a gene, or a non-coding sequence. Most PCR methods typically amplify DNA fragments of up to 10 kilo base pairs (kb), although some techniques allow for amplification of fragments up to 40 kb in size.

A basic PCR set up requires several components and reagents.

These components include:

* DNA template that contains the DNA region (target) to be amplified.

* Two primers that are complementary to the 3' (three prime) ends of each of the sense and anti-sense strand of the DNA target.

* Taq polymerase or another DNA polymerase with a temperature optimum at around 70 °C.

* Deoxynucleoside triphosphates (dNTPs; also very commonly and erroneously called deoxynucleotide triphosphates), the building blocks from which the DNA polymerases synthesizes a new DNA strand.

* Buffer solution, providing a suitable chemical environment for optimum activity and stability of the DNA polymerase.

* Divalent cations, magnesium or manganese ions; generally Mg2+ is used, but Mn2+ can be utilized for PCR-mediated DNA mutagenesis, as higher Mn2+ concentration increases the error rate during DNA synthesis.

* Monovalent cation potassium ions.


The PCR is commonly carried out in a reaction volume of 10–200 μl in small reaction tubes (0.2–0.5 ml volumes) in a thermal cycler. The thermal cycler heats and cools the reaction tubes to achieve the temperatures required at each step of the reaction (see below). Many modern thermal cyclers make use of the Peltier effect which permits both heating and cooling of the block holding the PCR tubes simply by reversing the electric current. Thin-walled reaction tubes permit favorable thermal conductivity to allow for rapid thermal equilibration. Most thermal cyclers have heated lids to prevent condensation at the top of the reaction tube. Older thermocyclers lacking a heated lid require a layer of oil on top of the reaction mixture or a ball of wax inside the tube.