Nucleic acid analysis using an expanded genetic alphabet to quench fluorescence

J Am Chem Soc. 2004 Apr 14;126(14):4550-6. doi: 10.1021/ja0315558.


Organic chemistry has made possible the synthesis of molecules that expand on Nature's genetic alphabet. Using the previously described nonstandard DNA base pair constructed from isoguanine and 5-methylisocytosine, we report a highly specific and sensitive method that allows for the fast and specific quantitation of genetic sequences in a closed tube format. During PCR amplification, enzymatic site-specific incorporation of a quencher covalently linked to isoguanine allows for the simultaneous detection and identification of multiple targets. The specificity of method is then established by analysis of thermal denaturation or melting of the amplicons. The appropriate functions of all reactions are further verified by incorporation of an independent target into the reaction mixture. We report that the method is sensitive down to the single copy level, and specificity is demonstrated by multiplexed end-point genotypic analysis of four targets simultaneously using four separate fluorescent reporters. The method is general enough for quantitative and qualitative analysis of both RNA and DNA using previously developed primer sets. Though the method described employs the commonly used PCR, the enzymatic incorporation of reporter groups into DNA site-specifically should find broad utility throughout molecular biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • DNA / analysis*
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • Fluorescence
  • Genes, gag / genetics
  • Guanine / chemistry*
  • Guanosine / chemistry*
  • Guanosine Triphosphate / analogs & derivatives*
  • Guanosine Triphosphate / chemistry
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods*


  • DNA, Viral
  • Guanosine
  • isoguanosine
  • Guanine
  • Guanosine Triphosphate
  • DNA
  • isoguanine