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PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR

How to Survive a Difficult PCR

I am sure many of you have been there. Everything is going smoothly, and your project seems to be working out perfectly. And then there is this one PCR. For some reason, it just won’t work. It is a black dot on your record. Even though I have a scientific mind, I have to be…

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Amplify Your PCR Success with the Right PCR Instrument!

Nowadays, almost every biology lab has a PCR instrument — from portable, battery-operated machines, to “PCR-by-water baths”, do-it-yourself PCR, or familiar vendor packages, including those with real-time quantification or droplet digital capabilities, DNA amplification depends on a robust thermal cycler. If you are looking to upgrade, add to, or even replace the lab’s current PCR…

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Microsoft Excel Can Help You Set Up Multi-Well Plates

When you are a newbie to qPCR or qRT-PCR, it is quite common to write everything down in your lab notebook and then tediously mark off reagents or samples as you add them. People typically start with a master mix for items you add to multiple samples such as (Mg2+, dNTPs, 10X PCR buffer, additives,…

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Intercalating Dyes or Fluorescent Probes For RT-qPCR?

The unique feature of real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) is that it associates the amplification of your target gene with a fluorescent signal in a quantifiable manner. Presently, there are numerous fluorescent tool kits/methods to consider when designing your RT-qPCR experiment. However, the two major categories to choose from are fluorescent intercalating dyes and…

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Oligo Purification Methods: How, Why and for What?

Who amongst us hasn’t had the need for oligonucleotides in an experiment? It is a cornerstone in many procedures and techniques. Depending on the goal, it can be very hard to design just the right oligo for your experiment.  Oligos must have the right length; the right amount of C-G, T-A; they can’t form secondary…

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The Inhibitors Haunting Your PCR

It often happens that you do everything right with a PCR. You have perfectly isolated template DNA, used sterile tubes and tips, used clean reagents, and said a quick prayer to the PCR Gods. And still, something unknown messes up your results. This unknown at work is generally a PCR inhibitor. Before you blame it…

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PCR Pitfalls: The Devil is in the Details

PCR was actually one of the first lab techniques I learned as an undergrad. Despite being sometimes labeled as a pretty basic lab skill, PCR doesn’t always work as expected. This “fickle” success is due to small details or hidden hazards within the PCR workflow that can cause your seemingly uncomplicated experiment to fail.  This…

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How to Choose the Correct Reverse Transcription Method

Quantitative Reverse transcription PCR (RT-qPCR) is frequently used in the lab to detect and quantify RNA expression in a sample. The first step of the assay is to convert the labile RNA to its complementary DNA (cDNA) counterpart through reverse transcription (RT). In fact, RT is the first step in a variety of molecular biology…

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Small Particles (Things) Matter!- Introducing Nanoparticle PCR

There are many different methods and protocols on making your PCR  run more efficiently. I recently came across an interesting PCR method called “nanoparticle” PCR. This method seems to attract a lot of attention, because it enhances a PCR  by a few orders of magnitude. More interestingly, while the enhancement effect has been reported in a…

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An Introduction to MassTag PCR

New ways to perform PCR emerge all the time. This speaks for the speed of technological advances, and reflects the ongoing need to keep up with fast-moving research. We all know that PCR’s main purpose is to amplify a stretch of nucleic acids based on sequence-specific primers. Nowadays, a wide range of PCR techniques exist,…

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Reverse Transcription: The Most Common Pitfalls!

Good quality starting material is king for reverse transcription! Obtaining reliable results in any experiment requires good preparation. We often take reverse transcription for granted, and we don’t always consider that our qPCR might be performing poorly because of problems in that step. Since it’s quite often the reverse transcription reaction itself that causes fuss…

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Faster PCR Optimization

So, you’ve designed PCR primers to amplify your sequence of interest, and you’re ready to go.  But unless you have a never-ending supply of template, polymerase, and a thermocycler with a gradient function—not to mention a hefty dose of time and patience—you probably don’t want to spend the next week finding the perfect conditions for…

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The Obligate qPCR Standard Curve

At first sight, real-time PCR looks like a very simple technique—very straightforward. Also, when it’s optimized, real-time PCR leads to interesting results. However, to obtain consistent and accurate results reflecting the reality, good controls are crucial for SYBR qPCR.  One of these controls is the qPCR standard curve to check for the efficiency of your primers. Efficient Primers…

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DNA Shuffling Like a Pro

DNA shuffling uses PCR technology in a very creative way. It allows you modify your protein to make a new protein you want. You can evolve proteins in microcentrifuge tubes on your very own lab bench. Isn’t that fantastic? DNA shuffling is also a very powerful technique for directed molecular evolution. W. Stemmer first used…

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From Revolution to Evolution: Stem-loop Real-time PCR

Kary Mullis invented polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in 1985 creating a revolution in molecular biology techniques. But it hasn’t stopped there. PCR has greatly evolved over the years. Today, we stand at a point, where we can clone micro RNAs (miRNAs) in real time! Due to miRNA size (about 18-21 nucleotides long) and varied expression levels,…

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How to Choose the Right Pipette Tips for your Experiment

The precision and accuracy of even the best calibrated pipette can be wiped out if you choose the wrong kind of tips. Depending on the experiment you are doing, the wrong kind of tips can also make your pipette a source of contamination, lead to waste of precious samples or reagents—or even cause you physical…

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The Real-Time PCR Digest

In the 30 odd years since its invention, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has become the bread and butter technique of molecular biologists. The secret to its indispensability lies in its simplicity and versatility. Numerous variants of the technique have been developed; one of these, real-time PCR, has become the method of choice for quantitative…

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