Glossary Term: Primer

(Including Forward Primer and Reverse Primer)

A primer is a strand of nucleic acid that serves as a starting point for DNA synthesis. They are required for DNA replication because the enzymes that catalyze this process, DNA polymerases, can only add new nucleotides to an existing strand of DNA. The polymerase starts replication at the 3’-end of the primer, and copies the opposite strand. In most cases of natural DNA replication, the primer for DNA synthesis and replication is a short strand of RNA (which can be made de novo). Many of the laboratory techniques of biochemistry and molecular biology that involve DNA polymerase, such as DNA sequencing and the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), require DNA primers. These primers are usually short, chemically synthesized oligonucleotides, with a length of about twenty bases. They are hybridized to a target DNA, which is then copied by the polymerase.

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Created: 2019-06-28 14:36:55 CDT (-0400)
Last modified: 2019-08-18 13:36:18 CDT (-0400)