Krzywkowski T, Nilsson M
Nucleic Acids Res. 45 (18) e161 [2017-10-13; online 2017-10-20]
Ligation-based nucleic acid detection methods are primarily limited to DNA, since they exhibit poor performance on RNA. This is attributed to reduced end-joining efficiency and/or fidelity of ligases. Interestingly, chlorella virus DNA ligase (PBCV-1 DNA ligase) has recently been shown to possess high RNA-templated DNA end-joining activity; however, its fidelity has not yet been systematically evaluated. Herein, we characterized PBCV-1 ligase for its RNA-templated end-joining fidelity at single base mismatches in 3' and 5' DNA probe termini and found an overall limited end-joining fidelity. To improve the specificity in PBCV-1 ligase-driven RNA detection assays, we utilized structure-specific 5' exonucleolytic activity of Thermus aquaticus DNA polymerase, used in the invader assay. In the iLock (invader padLock) probe assay, padlock probe molecules are activated prior ligation thus the base at the probe ligation junction is read twice in order to aid successful DNA ligation: first, during structure-specific invader cleavage and then during sequence-specific DNA ligation. We report two distinct iLock probe activation mechanisms and systematically evaluate the assay specificity, including single nucleotide polymorphisms on RNA, mRNA and miRNA. We show significant increase in PBCV-1 ligation fidelity in the iLock probe assay configuration for RNA detection.