Impact of primer dimers and self-amplifying hairpins on reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification detection of viral RNA

Robert J. Meagher, Aashish Priye, Yooli K. Light, Cheng Huang, Eryu Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP), coupled with reverse transcription (RT), has become a popular technique for detection of viral RNA due to several desirable characteristics for use in point-of-care or low-resource settings. The large number of primers in LAMP (six per target) leads to an increased likelihood of primer dimer interactions, and the inner primers in particular are prone to formation of stable hairpin structures due to their length (typically 40-45 bases). Although primer dimers and hairpin structures are known features to avoid in nucleic acid amplification techniques, there is little quantitative information in literature regarding the impact of these structures on LAMP or RT-LAMP assays. In this study, we examine the impact of primer dimers and hairpins on previously published primer sets for dengue virus and yellow fever virus. We demonstrate that minor changes to the primers to eliminate amplifiable primer dimers and hairpins improves the performance of the assays when monitored in real time with intercalating dyes, and when monitoring a fluorescent endpoint using the QUASR technique. We also discuss the thermodynamic implications of these minor changes on the overall stability of amplifiable secondary structures, and we present a single thermodynamic parameter that can be correlated to the probability of non-specific amplification associated with LAMP primers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1924-1933
Number of pages10
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 21 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry

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