A program for selecting DNA fragments to detect mutations by denaturing gel electrophoresis methods
Wartell, Roger M.
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A computer program was developed to automate the selection of DNA fragments for detecting mutations within a long DNA sequence by denaturing gel electrophoresis methods. The program, MELTSCAN, scans through a user specified DNA sequence calculating the melting behavior of overlapping DNA fragments covering the sequence. Melting characteristics of the fragments are analyzed to determine the best fragment for detecting mutations at each base pair position in the sequence. The calculation also determines the optimal fragment for detecting mutations within a user specified mutational hot spot region. The program is built around the statistical mechanical model of the DNA melting transition. The optimal fragment for a given position is selected using the criteria that its melting curve has at least two steps, the base pair position is in the fragment's lowest melting domain, and the melting domain has the smallest number of base pairs among fragments that meet the first two criteria. The program predicted fragments for detecting mutations in the cDNA and genomic DNA of the human p53 gene.