Optimized quantitative PCR analysis of random DNA aptamer libraries

Keenan Pearson, Caroline Doherty, Drason Zhang, Nicole A. Becker, L. James Maher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) with detection of duplex DNA yield by intercalator fluorescence is a common and essential technique in nucleic acid analysis. We encountered unexpected results when applying standard qPCR methods to the quantitation of random DNA libraries flanked by regions of fixed sequence, a configuration essential for in vitro selection experiments. Here we describe the results of experiments revealing why conventional qPCR methods can fail to allow automated analysis in such cases, and simple solutions to this problem. In particular we show that renaturation of PCR products containing random regions is incomplete in late PCR cycles when extension fails due to reagent depletion. Intercalator fluorescence can then be lost at standard interrogation temperatures. We show that qPCR analysis of random DNA libraries can be achieved simply by adjusting the step at which intercalator fluorescence is monitored so that the yield of annealed constant regions is detected rather than the yield of full duplex DNA products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114712
JournalAnalytical Biochemistry
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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