Incorporation of measurement of DNA integrity into qPCR assays

Michael Brisco, Susan Latham, Paul Bartley, Alexander Morley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    31 Citations (Scopus)


    Optimal accuracy of quantitative PCR (qPCR) requires correction for integrity of the target sequence. Here we combine the mathematics of the Poisson distribution and exponential amplification to show that the frequency of lesions per base (which prevent PCR amplification) can be derived from the slope of the regression line between cycle threshold (Ct) and amplicon length. We found that the amplifiable fraction (AF) of a target can be determined from this frequency and the target length. Experimental results from this method correlated with both the magnitude of a damaging agent and with other measures of DNA damage. Applying the method to a reference sequence, we determined the values for lesions/base in control samples, as well as in the AFs of the target sequence in qPCR samples collected from leukemic patients. The AFs used to calculate the final qPCR result were generally >0.5, but were <0.2 in a few samples, indicating significant degradation. We conclude that DNA damage is not always predictable; quantifying the DNA integrity of a sample and determining the AF of a specific qPCR target will improve the accuracy of qPCR and aid in the interpretation of negative results.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)893-897
    Number of pages5
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


    • DNA damage
    • DNA integrity
    • Poisson distribution
    • QPCR


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