Reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction

Definition of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction

reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction

(ree-VERS tran-SKRIP-shun-puh-LIH-meh-rays chayn ree-AK-shun)
A laboratory method used to make many copies of a specific genetic sequence for analysis. It uses an enzyme called reverse transcriptase to change a specific piece of RNA into a matching piece of DNA. This piece of DNA is then amplified (made in large numbers) by another enzyme called DNA polymerase. The amplified DNA copies help tell whether a specific mRNA molecule is being made by a gene. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction may be used to look for certain changes in a gene or chromosome or for activation of certain genes, which may help diagnose a disease, such as cancer. It may also be used to study the RNA of certain viruses, such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the hepatitis C virus, to help diagnose and monitor an infection. Also called RT-PCR.

Source: NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms