The results presented here provide the first single-cell genetic assay for Tay-Sachs disease based on real-time PCR. Individual lymphoblasts were lysed with an optimized lysis buffer and assayed using one pair of primers that amplifies both the wild type and 1278 + TATC Tay-Sachs alleles. The resulting amplicons were detected in real time with two molecular beacons each with a different colored fluorochrome. The kinetics of amplicon accumulation generate objective criteria by which to evaluate the validity of each reaction. The assay had an overall utility of 95%, based on the detection of at least one signal in 235 of the 248 attempted tests and an efficiency of 97%, as 7 of the 235 samples were excluded from further analysis for objective quantitative reasons. The accuracy of the assay was 99.1%, because 228 of 230 samples gave signals consistent with the genotype of the cells. Only two of the 135 heterozygous samples were allele drop-outs, a rate far lower than previously reported for single-cell Tay-Sachs assays using conventional methods of PCR.
Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.