Reliable and robust droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) and RT-ddPCR protocols for mouse studies

Methods. 2021 Jul:191:95-106. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2020.07.004. Epub 2020 Jul 25.


Droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) is a recent method developed for the quantification of nucleic acids sequences. It is an evolution of PCR methodology incorporating two principal differences: a PCR reaction is performed in thousands of water-oil emulsion droplets and fluorescence is measured at the end of PCR amplification. It leads to the precise and reproducible quantification of DNA and RNA sequences. Here, we present quantitative methods for DNA and RNA analysis using Bio-Rad QX100 or QX200 systems, respectively. The aim of these methods is to provide useful molecular tools for validating genetically altered animal models such as those subject to CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing, as well for expression or CNV studies. A standard procedure for simultaneous DNA and RNA extraction adapted for mouse organs is also described. These methods were initially designed for mouse studies but also work for samples from other species like rat or human. In our lab, thousands of samples and hundreds of target genes from genetically altered lines were examined using these methods. This large dataset was analyzed to evaluate technical optimizations and limitations. Finally, we propose additional recommendations to be included in dMIQE (Minimum information for publication of quantitative digital PCR experiments) guidelines when using ddPCR instruments.

Keywords: DMIQE; Droplet digital PCR (ddPCR); Genetically modified animals; Quality control; RT-ddPCR; Research reproducibility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA / genetics
  • Mice
  • RNA / genetics
  • Rats
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction*


  • RNA
  • DNA