The PCR-SSP Manager computer program: a tool for maintaining sequence alignments and automatically updating the specificities of PCR-SSP primers and primer mixes

Tissue Antigens. 1998 Aug;52(2):158-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0039.1998.tb02280.x.


An emerging problem of molecular typing methods such as PCR amplification using sequence-specific primers (PCR-SSP) is that they frequently require updating as new alleles are constantly being described which potentially affect the specificity of every PCR-SSP reaction. PCR-SSP uses pairs of primers to detect cis-linked polymorphisms and thus each new allele described must be compared to each individual primer pair. Furthermore, sequence homology between the various loci for class I and class II means that, for example, new HLA-A sequences have to be compared with HLA-B and HLA-C primer mixes to rule out cross-locus amplification. We have developed a computer program known as SSP Manager which is capable of aligning HLA class I and class II sequences obtained from Internet-accessible databases such as GenBank. The program then updates all individual primer specificities held in its database before updating the specificities of all primer mixes. Sets of primer mixes can then be combined from the primer mix directory to create PCR-SSP typing trays which are subsequently analysed by the program. A report is generated which stipulates whether all known sequences are amplified and the reason for apparent failure to test for individual alleles, e.g. a lack of relevant sequence information. SSP Manager has the flexibility to cope with unusual sequences (deletions and insertions), primers with internal mismatches and primers with a deliberate mismatch. The program also has many tools for developing new primer mixes, such as the facility to search for novel reactions using Boolean operators. The organisation and operational use of the SSP Manager program is described and its uses are illustrated with an updated allele list for our previously described Phototyping PCR-SSP class I and class II typing set. The SSP Manager is available on request from the authors.

MeSH terms

  • Antisense Elements (Genetics)
  • DNA Primers / immunology*
  • HLA Antigens / genetics*
  • Histocompatibility Testing
  • Humans
  • Phenotype
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / instrumentation
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods*
  • Software*


  • Antisense Elements (Genetics)
  • DNA Primers
  • HLA Antigens