Broad range DNA probes for detecting and amplifying eubacterial nucleic acids

Kui Chen, Harold Neimark, Peter Rumore, Charles R. Steinman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


In this report we describe and characterize two oligomer probes that are broadly homologous to conserved eubacterial 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) sequences not present in human 18 rRNA or human mitochondrial 12S rRNA. One or both of the probes can detect all of 23 phylogenetically diverse eubacterial nucleic acids against which they were tested by dot blot hybridization. A sensitivity of about 1 bacterium per 10 eukaryotic cells was achieved. By using these oligomer sequences or their complements as primers in the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), the equivalent of 1 pg of E. coli DNA was detected in the presence of a large excess of eukaryotic DNA. Information useful for partial phylogenetic classification of detected organisms may be obtained by direct sequence analysis of the amplified DNA and comparison with known sequences or catalogs. Such broadly homologous probes offer advantages over more narrowly specific probes for detecting organisms whose identity is unknown. They could thus be employed for recognizing infection by organisms that cannot be cultured as may occur, for example, in tissue culture or in plant or animal diseases of unknown cause, provided the probes fail to hybridize with host nucleic acids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-24
Number of pages6
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA probe
  • Detection
  • Eubacteria
  • Nucleic acid hybridization


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