Detection of PCR products using self-probing amplicons and fluorescence

D. Whitcombe, J. Theaker, S. P. Guy, T. Brown and S. Little. Nat. Biotechnol. 17 (8), 804-807, 1999.


Molecular diagnostics is progressing from low-throughput, heterogeneous, mostly manual technologies to higher throughput, closed-tube, and automated methods. Fluorescence is the favored signaling technology for such assays, and a number of techniques rely on energy transfer between a fluorophore and a proximal quencher molecule. In these methods, dual-labeled probes hybridize to an amplicon and changes in the quenching of the fluorophore are detected. We describe a new technology that is simple to use, gives highly specific information, and avoids the major difficulties of the alternative methods. It uses a primer with an integral tail that is used to probe an extension product of the primer. The probing of a target sequence is thereby converted into a unimolecular event, which has substantial benefits in terms of kinetics, thermodynamics, assay design, and probe reliability.