JCVI: Degenerate Primer Design for Highly Variable Genomes.
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Li K, Shrivastava S, Stockwell TB

Degenerate Primer Design for Highly Variable Genomes.

Methods in Molecular Biology (Clifton, N.J.). 2015 Dec 01; 1275: 103-15.

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The application of degenerate PCR primers towards target amplification and sequencing is a useful technique when a population of organisms under investigation is evolving rapidly, or is highly diverse. Degenerate bases in these primers are specified with ambiguity codes that represent alternative nucleotide configurations. Degenerate PCR primers allow the simultaneous amplification of a heterogeneous population by providing a mixture of PCR primers each of which anneal to an alternative genotype found in the isolated sample. However, as the number of degenerate bases specified in a pair of primers rises, the likelihood of amplifying unwanted alternative products also increases. These alternative products may confound downstream data analyses if their levels begin to obfuscate the desired PCR products. This chapter describes a set of computational methodologies that may be used to minimize the degeneracy of designed primers, while still maximizing the proportion of genotypes assayed in the targeted population.