NEB offers several reagents for cDNA synthesis upstream of applications such as qPCR and qRT-PCR. For your convenience, reagents are available as kits or standalone products to suit your needs.The synthesis of DNA from an RNA template, via reverse transcription, produces complementary DNA (cDNA). Reverse transcriptases (RTs) use an RNA template and a short primer complementary to the 3' end of the RNA to direct the synthesis of the first strand cDNA, which can be used directly as a template for the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). This combination of reverse transcription and PCR (RT-PCR) allows the detection of low abundance RNAs in a sample, and production of the corresponding cDNA, thereby facilitating the cloning of low copy genes. Alternatively, the first-strand cDNA can be made double-stranded using DNA Polymerase I and DNA Ligase. These reaction products can be used for direct cloning without amplification. In this case, RNase H activity, from either the RT or supplied exogenously, is required.
Many RTs are available from commercial suppliers. Avian Myeloblastosis Virus (AMV) Reverse Transcriptase and Moloney Murine Leukemia Virus (M-MuLV, MMLV) Reverse Transcriptase are RTs that are commonly used in molecular biology workflows. M-MuLV Reverse Transcriptase lacks 3´ → 5´ exonuclease activity. ProtoScript® II Reverse Transcriptase is a recombinant M-MuLV reverse transcriptase with reduced RNase H activity and increased thermostability. It can be used to synthesize first strand cDNA at higher temperatures than the wild-type M-MuLV. The enzyme is active up to 50°C, providing higher specificity, higher yield of cDNA and more full-length cDNA product, up to 12 kb in length.
The use of engineered RTs improves the efficiency of full-length product formation, ensuring the copying of the 5' end of the mRNA transcript is complete, and enabling the propagation and characterization of a faithful DNA copy of an RNA sequence. The use of the more thermostable RTs, where reactions are performed at higher temperatures, can be very helpful when dealing with RNA that contains high amounts of secondary structure.
For help comparing the RTs and cDNA Synthesis reagents available, view our RT/cDNA Synthesis selection chart.
Protocols for cDNA Synthesis & Reverse Transcriptases
- SP6 In Vitro Transcription Reaction Protocol (M0207)
- Reaction Conditions (E5315)
- Standard PCR Protocol (E5315)
- One-Step RT-PCR Protocols (E5315)
- Typical RT-LAMP Protocol
- Typical cDNA Synthesis Protocol
- Protocol for Avoiding Rnase Contamination using Murine Rnase Inhibitor (M0314)
- First Strand cDNA Synthesis (Standard Protocol) (NEB #M0277)
- First Strand cDNA Synthesis (No-RT Negative Control Reaction) (NEB #M0277)
- First Strand cDNA Synthesis (Standard Protocol) (NEB #M0253)
- First Strand cDNA Synthesis (Standard Protocol) (NEB #M0368)
- First Strand cDNA Synthesis (Quick Protocol) (NEB #M0368)
- First Strand cDNA Synthesis (No-RT Negative Control Reaction) (NEB #M0253)
- First Strand cDNA Synthesis (No-RT Negative Control Reaction) (NEB #M0368)
- First Strand cDNA Synthesis (Quick Protocol) (NEB #M0253)
- A Typical Tailing Reaction (M0337)
- Use of M13KO7 Helper Phage for isolation of single-stranded phagemid DNA
- First Strand cDNA Synthesis Protocols (E6300)
- First Strand cDNA Synthesis Protocols (E6560)
- First Strand cDNA Synthesis (Quick Protocol) (NEB #M0277)
- PCR Amplification with OneTaq® RT-PCR Kit
- First strand cDNA synthesis OneTaq® RT-PCR Kit
- Protocol for NEBNext® Ultra™ II Non-Directional RNA Second Strand Synthesis Module (E6111)
- Poly(A) Tailing of RNA using E. coli Poly(A) Polymerase (NEB# M0276)
The PCR brochure provides product information on the wide range of DNA polymerases available from NEB, including tools for selection and troubleshooting tips.
Other Tools & Resources
- Terry Fei Fan Ng, Nikola O Kondov, Xutao Deng, Alison Van Eenennaam, Holly L Neibergs, Eric Delwart 2015. A metagenomics and case-control study to identify viruses associated with bovine respiratory disease. J Virol. 89, PubMedID: 25740998, DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00064-15
Publications related to cDNA Synthesis & Reverse Transcriptases
cDNA Synthesis Selection Chart
RNA Polymerase Selection Chart
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