Tuning single nucleotide discrimination in polymerase chain reactions (PCRs): synthesis of primer probes bearing polar 4'-C-modifications and their application in allele-specific PCR.


There are many methods available for the detection of nucleotide variations in genetic material. Most of these methods are applied after amplification of the target genome sequence by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Many efforts are currently underway to develop techniques that can detect single nucleotide variations in genes either by means of, or without the need for, PCR. Allele-specific PCR (asPCR), which reports nucleotide variations based on either the presence or absence of a PCR-amplified DNA product, has the potential to combine target amplification and analysis in one single step. The principle of asPCR is based on the formation of matched or mismatched primer-target complexes by using allele-specific primer probes. PCR amplification by a DNA polymerase from matched 3'-primer termini proceeds, whereas a mismatch should obviate amplification. Given the recent advancements in real-time PCR, this technique should, in principle, allow single nucleotide variations to be detected online. However, this method is hampered by low selectivity, which necessitates tedious and costly manipulations. Recently, we reported that the selectivity of asPCR can be significantly increased through the employment of chemically modified primer probes. Here we report further significant advances in this area. We describe the synthesis of various primer probes that bear polar 4'-C-modified nucleotide residues at their 3' termini, and their evaluation in real-time asPCR. We found that primer probes bearing a 4'-C-methoxymethylene modification have superior properties in the discrimination of single nucleotide variations by PCR.




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