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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Real-Time PCR. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Reverse Transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR)

While real-time PCR is designed for amplification of DNA, using a reverse transcriptase enzyme (RTE) allows amplification from an RNA target by creating a copy of DNA from the original RNA molecule. PCR is modified for the amplification of RNA by the addition of a RTE in the assay components. RTE creates a copy of DNA using the original RNA specimen. Though there are thermostable polymerases that have reverse transcriptase capabilities, they are not commonly used.
Reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) is used for the detection of viruses, such as HIV, hepatitis C virus (HCV), and Influenza, that have an RNA genome. RT-PCR methods provide early detection of infection, even before the formation of antibodies. Therefore, it is a particularly useful method for HIV and HCV detection in blood bank nucleic acid testing.
RT-PCR is commonly performed using real-time PCR.