What Is PCR And How To Identify The Alu Transposon In Your DNA
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What Is PCR And How To Identify The Alu Transposon In Your DNA

DNA is found in all living organisms. It contains genetic codes which regulate the production of proteins and most importantly the activity of enzymes within a cell. Enzymes are extremely necessary for the cell to make other molecules essential for life. DNA is also responsible for passing traits from one cell generation to the next which allows organisms to function properly and to adapt over time.

DNA is found in all living organisms. It contains genetic codes which regulate the production of proteins and most importantly the activity of enzymes within a cell. Enzymes are extremely necessary for the cell to make other molecules essential for life. DNA is also responsible for passing traits from one cell generation to the next which allows organisms to function properly and to adapt over time. Variations within the genetic code of an organism are what lead to adaptations over time. These variations within the genome are known as polymorphisms, which occur within the base-pair sequences of the DNA structure. These alterations can be single base-pair alterations to large insertions or deletions of DNA sequences. DNA insertions or deletions are known as transposons or mobile genetic elements which can migrate from one position of the genome to another by cutting themselves out or replicating themselves. One such mobile genetic element is known as the Alu transposon; which is about 300 nucleotides long. It is predicted that Alu transposes in the human genome once every 200 births (Ardell, 2011).

The genotype of an individual containing the Alu sequence can be determined by amplifying the DNA at the Alu locus by a powerful technique known as Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR); which is used to generate millions of copies of a specific DNA sequence (Brown, 1995). Most DNA analysis situations require large amounts of DNA. The DNA found in a couple of cells is not enough to provide an effective analysis of the DNA, thus is why PCR is a highly employed technique. PCR uses a thermo-stable DNA polymerase, known as Taq, to synthesize many copies of a target DNA sequence. PCR requires a reaction vessel that contains chromosomal DNA, dNTP’s, Taq polymerase, and forward and reverse primers (Ardell, 2011). The reaction vessel is then placed in a thermo cycler who begins the first cycle by denaturing the double stranded DNA molecule, making two DNA templates to which primers will attach to and then direct the Taq polymerase to begin DNA synthesis. Each step in the cycle requires a specific temperature, for example the ideal denaturing temperature is 95°C, the ideal primer annealing temperature is 60°C, and the ideal elongation temperature is 72°C (PCR Virtual). After repeating this cycle many times the number of target DNA sequences will grow exponentially making it efficient for detection and analysis by agarose gel electrophoresis.

If the Alu transposons are predicted to migrate in the genome once every 200 births, the frequency of a person being homozygous for no Alu repeat is much higher than someone who is heterozygous for the Alu repeat and furthermore, the lowest frequency should be homozygous for the Alu repeat.

References

Ardell, Dave. 2011. Biology 002 Laboratory Exercise 5. Amplification of DNA by the Polymerase Chain Reaction & DNA Electrophoresis.

Brown, John C. "What the Heck Is PCR?" Information Technology. 1995. Web. 15 Mar. 2012. .

"PCR Virtual Lab." Learn.Genetics™. Web. 15 Mar. 2012. .

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