The capability of planar rRNA-based oligonucleotide microarrays for single-base-pair discrimination was evaluated using an approach that compares the non-equilibrium dissociation profiles and dissociation temperatures (T ds) of all probe-target duplexes simultaneously. Three sets of 16S rRNA gene specific probes at different levels of specificity were used along with their counter probes for individual sets having either one or two mismatches (MM) to their targets at specific external (next to terminus) and various internal positions. Criteria based on the Td approach and a discrimination index (DI) were proven to be competent in discriminating PM from internal MM duplexes, but not always for external MM duplexes. Maximal DI for separating PM duplexes from ones with two and one internal MM usually occurred at temperatures approximately 5-10°C and 10-15°C, respectively, higher than the Tds of the PM duplexes. Washing buffer type and salt concentration, and MM number and position were shown statistically to affect dissociation profiles, Td, and single-base-pair discriminating capability. The reusability potential of the planar microchip was further demonstrated.
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