Foundations | The First Polymerase Chain Reaction

This page from my notebook lists the chemicals which I put together into a single, purple-capped tube on September 8th, 1983, in a reaction I labeled PCR01. No cycling, only one tube, no variations, no controls, and anyone familiar with PCR conditions used today will recognize very little here, except the idea.

I wasn't positive that the reaction would not cycle itself. I knew that any chemical equilibrium had some finite value, meaning that some portion of any nominally double-stranded DNA would be single-stranded. And to increase the initial population of single strands, I had to cut the template DNA with a restriction enzyme. And the primers were there in sumptuous abundance. I was certainly not a proponent of doing things the hard way if there were any other possibilities.

You might conclude that it was a long-shot experiment. I agreed, so [at...

Interested in reading more?

Magaizne Cover

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?