How sensitive is PCR-SSCP?

Hum Mutat. 1993;2(5):338-46. doi: 10.1002/humu.1380020503.


Single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis (SSCP) is a rapid method for detection of minor sequence changes in polymerase chain reaction-amplified DNA. Since the first reported use of SSCP in 1989 (Orita et al., 1989), this technique has been used widely to detect mutations in oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, and genes responsible for genetic diseases. Published mutations that have been detected using this technique include base substitutions, small insertions and deletions, and rearrangements. This technique has also been applied for the detection of DNA polymorphisms at various loci of the human genome (reviewed by Hayashi, 1991; Hayashi, 1993). However, many factors can influence the sensitivity of SSCP, and its optimization is highly empirical. In this review, we estimate the percentage of mutations that can be detected by this technique under various controlled conditions, and describe some critical elements affecting sensitivity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Single-Stranded / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / standards
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • DNA, Single-Stranded