Simple allele-discriminating PCR for cost-effective and rapid genotyping and mapping

Plant Methods. 2009 Jan 8;5:1. doi: 10.1186/1746-4811-5-1.


Background: Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are widely observed between individuals, ecotypes, and species, serving as an invaluable molecular marker for genetic, genomic, ecological and evolutionary studies. Although, a large number of SNP-discriminating methods are currently available, few are suited for low-throughput and low-cost applications. Here, we describe a genotyping method named Simple Allele-discriminating PCR (SAP), which is ideally suited for the small-scale genotyping and gene mapping routinely performed in small to medium research or teaching laboratories.

Results: We demonstrate the feasibility and application of SAP to discriminate wild type alleles from their respective mutant alleles in Arabidopsis thaliana. Although the design principle was previously described, it is unclear if the method is technically robust, reliable, and applicable. Three primers were designed for each individual SNP or allele with two allele-discriminating forward primers (one for wild type and one for the mutant allele) and a common reverse primer. The two allele-discriminating forward primers are designed so that each incorporates one additional mismatch at the adjacent (penultimate) site from the SNP, resulting in two mismatches between the primer and its non-target template and one mismatch between the primer and its target template. The presence or absence of the wild type or the mutant allele correlates with the presence or absence of respective PCR product. The presence of both wild type-specific and mutant-specific PCR products would indicate heterozygosity. SAP is shown here to discriminate three mutant alleles (lug-3, lug-16, and luh-1) from their respective wild type alleles. In addition, the SAP principle is shown to work in conjunction with fluorophore-labeled primers, demonstrating the feasibility of applying SAP to high throughput SNP analyses.

Conclusion: SAP offers an excellent alternative to existing SNP-discrimination methods such as Cleaved Amplified Polymorphic Sequence (CAPS) or derived CAPS (dCAPS). It can also be adapted for high throughput SNP analyses by incorporating fluorophore-labeled primers. SAP is reliable, cost-effective, fast, and simple, and can be applied to all organisms not limited to Arabidopsis thaliana.