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The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) stands among the keystone technologies for analysis of biological sequence data. PCR is used to amplify DNA, to generate many copies from as little as a single template. This is essential, for example, in processing forensic DNA samples, pathogen detection in clinical or biothreat surveillance applications, and medical genotyping for diagnosis and treatment of disease. It is used in virtually every laboratory doing molecular, cellular, genetic, ecologic, forensic, or medical research. Despite its ubiquity, we lack the precise predictive capability that would enable detailed optimization of PCR reaction dynamics. In this LDRD, we proposed to develop Virtual PCR (VPCR) software, a computational method to model the kinetic, thermodynamic, and biological processes of PCR reactions. Given a successful completion, these tools will allow us to predict both the sequences and concentrations of all species that are amplified during PCR. The ability to answer the following questions will allow us both to optimize the PCR process and interpret the PCR results: What products are amplified when sequence mixtures are present, containing multiple, closely related targets and multiplexed primers, which may hybridize with sequence mismatches? What are the effects of time, temperature, and DNA concentrations on the concentrationsmore » of products? A better understanding of these issues will improve the design and interpretation of PCR reactions. The status of the VPCR project after 1.5 years of funding is consistent with the goals of the overall project which was scoped for 3 years of funding. At half way through the projected timeline of the project we have an early beta version of the VPCR code. We have begun investigating means to improve the robustness of the code, performed preliminary experiments to test the code and begun drafting manuscripts for publication. Although an experimental protocol for testing the code was developed, the preliminary experiments were tainted by contaminated products received from the manufacturer. Much knowledge has been gained in the development of the code thus far, but without final debugging, increasing its robustness and verifying it against experimental results, the papers which we have drafted to share our findings still require the final data necessary for publication. The following sections summarize our final progress on VPCR as it stands after 1.5 years of effort on an ambitious project scoped for a 3 year period. We have additional details of the methods than are provided here, but would like to have legal protection in place before releasing them. The result of this project, a suite of programs that predict PCR products as a function of reaction conditions and sequences, will be used to address outstanding questions in pathogen detection and forensics at LLNL. VPCR should enable scientists to optimize PCR protocols in terms of time, temperature, ion concentration, and primer sequences and concentrations, and to estimate products and error rates in advance of performing experiments. Our proposed capabilities are well ahead of all currently available technologies, which do not model non-equilibrium kinetics, polymerase extension, or predict multiple or undesired PCR products. We are currently seeking DHS funding to complete the project, at which time licensing opportunities will be explored, an updated patent application will be prepared, and a publication will be submitted. A provisional and a full patent application have already been filed (1).« less
Authors:
; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
894750
Report Number(s):
UCRL-TR-221031
TRN: US200702%%336
DOE Contract Number:
W-7405-ENG-48
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Livermore, CA
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; 99 GENERAL AND MISCELLANEOUS//MATHEMATICS, COMPUTING, AND INFORMATION SCIENCE; DESIGN; DETECTION; DIAGNOSIS; DNA; KINETICS; LICENSING; MIXTURES; OPTIMIZATION; PATHOGENS; POLYMERASE CHAIN REACTION; POLYMERASES; PROCESSING; TARGETS; TESTING