Basic quantitative polymerase chain reaction using real-time fluorescence measurements.

Cold Spring Harbor protocols

PubMedID: 25275107

Ares M. Basic quantitative polymerase chain reaction using real-time fluorescence measurements. Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2014;2014(10):pdb.prot080903.
This protocol uses quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) to measure the number of DNA molecules containing a specific contiguous sequence in a sample of interest (e.g., genomic DNA or cDNA generated by reverse transcription). The sample is subjected to fluorescence-based PCR amplification and, theoretically, during each cycle, two new duplex DNA molecules are produced for each duplex DNA molecule present in the sample. The progress of the reaction during PCR is evaluated by measuring the fluorescence of dsDNA-dye complexes in real time. In the early cycles, DNA duplication is not detected because inadequate amounts of DNA are made. At a certain threshold cycle, DNA-dye complexes double each cycle for 8-10 cycles, until the DNA concentration becomes so high and the primer concentration so low that the reassociation of the product strands blocks efficient synthesis of new DNA and the reaction plateaus. There are two types of measurements: (1) the relative change of the target sequence compared to a reference sequence and (2) the determination of molecule number in the starting sample. The first requires a reference sequence, and the second requires a sample of the target sequence with known numbers of the molecules of sequence to generate a standard curve. By identifying the threshold cycle at which a sample first begins to accumulate DNA-dye complexes exponentially, an estimation of the numbers of starting molecules in the sample can be extrapolated.