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For this real-time reverse-transcription laboratory-developed PCR assay, viral nucleic acid is extracted from specimens using the MagNA Pure automated instrument (Roche Applied Science), followed by amplification and detection on the Roche LightCycler 2.0 instrument. This PCR assay has been optimized to detect a target sequence in the polyprotein region. Primers amplify a 193-bp product.
Enterovirus genomic RNA is first transcribed to cDNA by reverse transcriptase, followed by amplification of the cDNA product. The LightCycler instrument can rapidly (30-40 minutes) detect amplicon development through stringent air-controlled temperature cycling in capillary cuvettes. The detection of amplified products is based on the fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) principle. For FRET product detection, a hybridization probe with a donor fluorophore, fluorescein, on the 3'-end is excited by an external light source and emits light that is absorbed by a second hybridization probe with an acceptor fluorophore, LC-Red 640, at the 5'-end. The acceptor fluorophore then emits a light of a different wavelength that can be measured with a signal that is proportional to the amount of specific PCR product. FRET (with subsequent production of a detectable fluorescent signal) only occurs when the probes have specifically annealed to the target sequence of the amplicon.
Melting curve analysis is performed following PCR amplification and is the detection phase of the assay, since it offers greater sensitivity than the amplification phase and maintains high specificity.
The melting phase of the assay occurs as follows:
Starting at 45 degrees Celsius, which allows the probes to bind to the amplified product, the temperature in the thermal chamber is then slowly raised to 80 degrees Celsius and the fluorescence is measured at frequent intervals to determine the point where half of the fluorescence is lost as the probes are denatured (ie, "melt") off of the target. This is called the melting temperature (Tm) of that virus. Analysis of the PCR amplification and probe melting curves is accomplished through the use of LightCycler software.(Cockerill FR III, Uhl JR: Applications and challenges of real-time PCR for the clinical microbiology laboratory. In Rapid Cycle Real-Time PCR Methods and Applications. Edited by U Reischl, et al. Germany, Springer, 2002, pp 3-30)
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