The reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) is the most sensitive method for the detection of low-abundance mRNA. The real-time PCR system is based on the detection and quantification of a fluorescent reporter. This signal increases in direct proportion to the amount of PCR product in a reaction. By recording the amount of fluorescence emission at each cycle, it is possible to monitor the PCR reaction during exponential phase where the first significant increase in the amount of PCR product correlates to the initial amount of target template. There are two general methods for the quantitative detection of the amplicon: fluorescent probes or DNA-binding agents.

Perhaps the most critical parameter for successful PCR is the design of Primers. All things being equal, a poorly designed primer can result in a PCR reaction that will not work. The primer sequence determines several things such as the length of the product, its melting temperature and ultimately the yield. A poorly designed primer can result in little or no product due to non-specific amplification and/or primer-dimer formation, which can become competitive enough to suppress product formation. This application note is provided to give rules that should be taken into account when designing primers for PCR. More comprehensive coverage of this subject can be found elsewhere.


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