Ligation-Enabled Fluorescence-Coding PCR for High-Dimensional Fluorescence-Based Nucleic Acid Detection.

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is by far the most commonly used method of nucleic acid amplification and has likewise been employed for a plethora of diagnostic purposes. Nonetheless, multiplexed PCR-based detection schemes have hitherto been largely limited by technical challenges associated with nonspecific interactions and other limitations inherent to traditional fluorescence-based assays. Here, we describe a novel strategy for multiplexed PCR-based analysis called Ligation-eNabled fluorescence-Coding PCR (LiNC PCR) that exponentially enhances the multiplexing capability of standard fluorescence-based PCR assays. The technique relies upon a simple, preliminary ligation reaction in which target DNA sequences are converted to PCR template molecules with distinct endpoint fluorescence signatures. Universal TaqMan probes are used to create target-specific multicolor fluorescence signals that can be readily decoded to identify amplified targets of interest. We demonstrate the LiNC PCR technique by implementing a two-color-based assay for detection of 10 ovarian cancer epigenetic biomarkers at analytical sensitivities as low as 60 template molecules with no detectable target cross-talk. Overall, LiNC PCR provides a simple and inexpensive method for achieving high-dimensional multiplexing that can be implemented in manifold molecular diagnostic applications.

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Anal Chem, 2021, 93 (4)

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