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Nucleic Acids Res. 1992 September 11; 20(17): 4567–4573.
PMCID: PMC334186

Extension of base mispairs by Taq DNA polymerase: implications for single nucleotide discrimination in PCR.

Abstract

Thermus aquaticus (Taq) DNA polymerase was used to measure the extension efficiency for all configurations of matched and mismatched base pairs at template-primer 3'-termini. The transition mispairs, A(primer).C, C.A, G.T, and T.G were extended 10(-3) to 10(-4)-fold less efficiently than their correctly paired counterparts. Relative efficiencies for extending transversion mispairs were 10(-4) to 10(-5) for T.C and T.T, about 10(-6) for A.A, and less than 10(-6) for G.A, A.G, G.G and C.C. The transversion mispair C(primer).T was extended with high efficiency, about 10(-2) compared to a correct A.T basepair. The unexpected ease of extending the C.T mismatch was not likely to have been caused by primer-template misalignment. Taq polymerase was observed to bind with similar affinities to each of the correctly paired and mispaired primer-template 3'-ends. Thus, the failure of Taq polymerase to extend mismatches efficiently appears to be an intrinsic property of the enzyme and not due to an inability to bind to 3'-terminal mispairs. For almost all of the mispairs, C.T being the exception, Taq polymerase exhibits about 100 to 1000-fold greater discrimination against mismatch extension compared to avian myeloblastosis reverse transcriptase and HIV-1 reverse transcriptase which extend most mismatched basepairs permissively. Relative mismatch extension efficiencies for Taq polymerase were measured at 45 degrees C, 55 degrees C and 70 degrees C and found to be independent of temperature. The mispair extension data should be important in designing experiments using PCR to distinguish between sequences that vary by a single nucleotide.

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Articles from Nucleic Acids Research are provided here courtesy of Oxford University Press