Molecular markers
Polymerase chain reaction

Topic Completed: 1 January 2010

Minor changes: 15 February 2019

Copyright: 2008-2018,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Polymerase chain reaction[TI] definition

Rodney E. Shackelford, D.O., Ph.D.
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Cite this page: Shackelford R. Polymerase chain reaction - definition. website. Accessed May 27th, 2020.
Definition / general
  • Common technique used to amplify very small amounts of a specific DNA sequence, even a single copy, into millions or up to 100 billion copies in a short time (Wikipedia: Polymerase Chain Reaction [Accessed 4 June 2018])
  • Technique works best on short DNA sequences of 100 to 1,000 base pairs and employs dNTPs, Taq DNA polymerase, oligonucleotides, specific buffer conditions and thermal cycling
  • PCR has many variations and is a fundamental tool in medical research and molecular pathology
  • Developed in 1983 by Kary Mullis (Wikipedia: Kary Mullis [Accessed 4 June 2018]), who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1993 for this work
  • Presently over 350,000 papers have been published which use or refer to this technique
  • Frequently called PCR
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