'harmless' PCR test

Amy Anne Caudy aacaudy at artsci.wustl.edu
Sat Dec 5 11:31:58 EST 1998

Well, we do this exact project in Biology 3051, the entry level genetics
class at Washington University.  Using primers bracketing the D1S80 locus,
students generate PCR products from cheek cell swabs.  The locus is
hypervariable, with at least 29 alleles from 300 to 1000 base pairs in
length, resulting from variable numbers of repeats.  The locus doesn't
code for a protein.  

Students then use the data to calculate whether the population appears to
be in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. 

I think that you're being a bit overconcerned about the results of two
people having similar PCR products...for one thing, with 16 bp difference
between different alleles, it's hard to say that people have the same
allele, plus who's to say that they don't happen to by chance?  Assuming
you don't have the whole family in there testing everyone, you won't be
able to prove interrelatedness. 

Amy Caudy  

Ned Mantei (mantei at cell.biol.ethz.ch) wrote:

: We once thought (but not seriously) of having students take DNA samples
: from themselves and from family members (cheek swabs or the like), and
: then run PCRs with microsatellite markers. Most of the students would
: learn something about Mendelian inheritance. And someday one of them would
: learn more than they wanted to know  about the secret lives of their
: parents.
: So kids, don't try this at home...

: -- 
: Ned Mantei
: Dept. of Cell Biology, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
: CH-8093 Zurich, Switzerland

Hey, this is my .sig!

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