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Author Topic: How does the polymerase chain reaction work?  (Read 5818 times)

Randy

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How does the polymerase chain reaction work?
« on: 05/08/2008 12:59:41 »
Randy asked the Naked Scientists:

Polymerase Chain Reaction - how does it work? I've read a brief explanation
on Wikipedia, but it seemed more to describe the heating cycles scientists go through without, explaining how copies of DNA are produced and amplified.

What do you think?


 

blakestyger

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How does the polymerase chain reaction work?
« Reply #1 on: 05/08/2008 17:14:01 »
The heating cycles are what the PCR is as it's a synthetic (not found in nature process) but your point is valid.
Simply put, the PCR depends on the fact that DNA replication must begin with a primer, a short piece of DNA (or RNA) that the DNA polymerase then extends. The sequence of the cloned gene is used to design short primers at each end of the segment being investigated. These primers point at each other on opposite DNA strands, and the strands act as templates for DNA polymerization enzymes that dash rapidly back and forth between the primers, exponentially amplifying the segment between them. I can't do diagrams like the ones they have in books on this but they all seem pretty similar - check one out, see if it makes sense now.
 

Offline ActualRandy

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How does the polymerase chain reaction work?
« Reply #2 on: 07/08/2008 23:47:55 »
Thanks blakestyger - your reply is appreciated.

One part I'm struggling to understand is the role DNA polymerase plays in the reaction. It is described as a catalyst, but its action seems more complex than other catalysts, since it only catalyzes in conjunction with the primer and original DNA.
 

blakestyger

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How does the polymerase chain reaction work?
« Reply #3 on: 08/08/2008 17:46:51 »
I'm not an expert in this but what is a catalyst?
If its function is to increase the rate of a chemical reaction (or in this case make it possible) via intermediate compounds without undergoing any permanent change itself then it seems to fit the bill. As it's an enzyme though, it will be highly specific in the reaction it works with.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

How does the polymerase chain reaction work?
« Reply #3 on: 08/08/2008 17:46:51 »

 

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