Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)

Abstract

The polymerase chain reaction is a technique that allows DNA molecules of interest (usually gene sequences) to be copied in a simple enzyme reaction producing a sufficient quantity of the copied DNA for detailed analysis or manipulation. The method is a basic tool in molecular biology with widespread applications in biological and medical research.

Keywords: DNA polymerase; Taq; primer; template; amplification

Figure 1.

Polymerase chain reaction involves repeated cycles of incubation at three temperatures. The reaction is initially heated to above 90°C. At this temperature, the double‐stranded DNA template is denatured and becomes single‐stranded. The temperature is next reduced to 45–65°C. At this temperature, the oligonucleotide primers bind to their target sequences on the single‐stranded template. The temperature is then raised to 72°C and the TaqDNA polymerase begins to synthesize a new DNA strand complementary to the template strand beginning at the primers. Further cycles of incubation result in the synthesis of increasing amounts of the target sequence.

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Further Reading

Erlich HA (ed.) (1989) PCR Technology: Principles and Applications for DNA Amplification. New York, NY: Stockton Press.

Erlich HA and Arnheim N (1992) Genetic analysis using the polymerase chain reaction. Annual Review of Genetics 26: 479–506.

McPherson MP and Hames BD (eds.) (1995) PCR 2: A Practical Approach. Oxford, UK: IRL Press.

Nanda SK and Jain SK (1995) In vitro nucleic acid amplification systems. Current Science 66: 421–429.

Ohan NW and Heikkila JJ (1995) Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction – an overview of the technique and its applications. Biotechnology Advances 11: 13–29.

Reischl U and Kochanowski B (1995) Quantitative PCR – a survey of the present technology. Molecular Biotechnology 3: 55–71.

Twyman RM (1998) Advanced Molecular Biology: A Concise Reference, pp. 279–285. Oxford, UK: Bios Scientific Publishers.

Winter PC, Hickey GI and Fletcher HL (2002) Instant Notes in Genetics, pp. 255–258. Oxford, UK: Bios Scientific Publishers.

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How to Cite close
Winter, Paul C(Sep 2005) Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0005339]