Synergy is....

Life sciences

Synergy is....

Life sciences

PCR and Gene expression

One surprising aspect of PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) is its origin story. The technique was developed by Kary Mullis in 1983, but the idea for PCR came to him during a late-night drive in California, not in a laboratory. Mullis later described how he had an epiphany about a way to replicate DNA while cruising along the highway in his car. This "eureka moment" led to the invention of one of the most important and widely used techniques in molecular biology and genetics. It's a testament to how scientific breakthroughs can come from unexpected and everyday experiences, not just the confines of a laboratory.


Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is a molecular biology technique used to amplify and analyze DNA sequences. It involves a series of temperature-controlled cycles in a thermal cycler machine. In each cycle, DNA undergoes denaturation, where it's heated to separate the double strands, followed by annealing, where specific primers bind to target sequences, and extension, where a heat-resistant DNA polymerase synthesizes complementary strands. This process exponentially replicates the target DNA, making it suitable for various applications like genetic testing, DNA fingerprinting, and studying gene expression. PCR is a crucial tool in fields like genetics, forensics, and diagnostics, enabling the detection of minute DNA amounts.


Here's a step-by-step overview of how PCR is typically performed:

  1. Sample Collection: Begin by obtaining a DNA sample from a source of interest, such as a person's blood, saliva, tissue, or a microorganism culture.

  2. DNA Denaturation: Heat the DNA sample to about 94-98°C for a short period (usually 20-30 seconds). This process separates the double-stranded DNA into two single strands.

  3. Primer Annealing: Lower the temperature to around 50-65°C. Short DNA sequences called primers, which are complementary to the target DNA region, are added to the sample. These primers help initiate DNA replication.

  4. DNA Extension: Raise the temperature to around 72°C. A heat-stable DNA polymerase enzyme, like Taq polymerase, extends the primers by adding complementary nucleotides to the separated DNA strands. This process creates two new double-stranded DNA molecules, each containing one original strand and one newly synthesized strand.

  5. Repeat Cycles: Steps 2 to 4 are repeated for approximately 20-40 cycles, depending on the desired amplification level. Each cycle doubles the amount of DNA in the target region.

  6. Final Extension: After the last cycle, a final extension step is typically performed at 72°C for several minutes to ensure that any remaining single-stranded DNA is fully extended.

  7. Cooling: Finally, the reaction is cooled to a low temperature to stabilize the DNA.

The result is a significant increase in the amount of the target DNA sequence. PCR can be used for various applications, including DNA sequencing, genetic testing, forensics, and molecular biology research. The specific temperature and time parameters for each step may vary depending on the PCR protocol and the equipment used.