Efficiency and specificity of microRNA-primed nucleotide analog incorporation by various DNA polymerases

Anal Biochem. 2009 Aug 15;391(2):85-90. doi: 10.1016/j.ab.2009.05.010. Epub 2009 May 12.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) as endogenous regulators of gene expression have spurred a surge of interest for their quantification and expression analysis. High-sensitivity and high-specificity miRNA detection techniques, such as real-time polymerase chain reaction and recently introduced bioluminescent miRNA detection, require systematic study of DNA polymerases for use with miRNAs. In this study, a variety of DNA polymerases were studied to assess their capabilities of using miRNA as a primer and incorporating 2'-deoxyadenosine-5'-O-(1-thiotriphosphate) as a dATP alternative during DNA strand extension. Five DNA polymerases were investigated: mesophilic DNA polymerase I large (Klenow) fragment, 3'-->5' exo(-) Klenow DNA polymerase, thermophilic Bst DNA polymerase large fragment, Therminator DNA polymerase, and Taq DNA polymerase. The experimental results show that, except for Taq DNA polymerase, the polymerases can use miRNA as a primer and have both common and divergent properties of the nucleotide analog incorporation and miRNA discrimination. DNA polymerase I large (Klenow) fragment showed no detectable polymerization product with the thio-modified dATP as a substrate. Thermophilic Bst DNA polymerase had the highest specificity for miRNA recognition on a DNA template. The study provides a novel method for miRNA detection without reverse transcription to complementary DNA that is faster, simpler, and less prone to biases and errors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / chemistry
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / metabolism*
  • Deoxyadenine Nucleotides / chemistry*
  • Isomerism
  • MicroRNAs / analysis*
  • MicroRNAs / chemistry
  • Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques / methods*
  • Thionucleotides / chemistry*


  • Deoxyadenine Nucleotides
  • MicroRNAs
  • Thionucleotides
  • 2'-deoxyadenosine 5'-O-(1-thiotriphosphate)
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase