Real-time PCR (qPCR) primer design using free online software



Real-time PCR (quantitative PCR or qPCR) has become the preferred method for validating results obtained from assays which measure gene expression profiles. The process uses reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), coupled with fluorescent chemistry, to measure variations in transcriptome levels between samples. The four most commonly used fluorescent chemistries are SYBR® Green dyes and TaqMan®, Molecular Beacon or Scorpion probes. SYBR® Green is very simple to use and cost efficient. As SYBR® Green dye binds to any double-stranded DNA product, its success depends greatly on proper primer design. Many types of online primer design software are available, which can be used free of charge to design desirable SYBR® Green-based qPCR primers. This laboratory exercise is intended for those who have a fundamental background in PCR. It addresses the basic fluorescent chemistries of real-time PCR, the basic rules and pitfalls of primer design, and provides a step-by-step protocol for designing SYBR® Green-based primers with free, online software. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education Vol. 39, No. 2, pp. 145–154, 2011