Restriction fragment length polymorphism

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In molecular biology, the term restriction fragment length polymorphism, or RFLP, (commonly pronounced “rif-lip”) is a technique that exploits variations in homologous DNA sequences. It refers to a difference between samples of homologous DNA molecules that come from differing locations of restriction enzyme sites, and to a related laboratory technique by which these segments can be illustrated. In RFLP analysis the DNA sample is broken into pieces (digested) by restriction enzymes and the resulting restriction fragments are separated according to their lengths by gel electrophoresis. Although now largely obsolete, RFLP analysis was the first DNA profiling technique inexpensive enough to see widespread application. In addition to genetic fingerprinting, RFLP was an important tool in genome mapping, localization of genes for genetic disorders, determination of risk for disease, and paternity testing.

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Analysis technique

The basic technique for detecting RFLPs involves fragmenting a sample of DNA by a restriction enzyme, which can recognize and cut DNA wherever a specific short sequence occurs, in a process known as a restriction digest. The resulting DNA fragments are then separated by length through a process known as agarose gel electrophoresis, and transferred to a membrane via the Southern blot procedure. Hybridization of the membrane to a labeled DNA probe then determines the length of the fragments which are complementary to the probe. An RFLP occurs when the length of a detected fragment varies between individuals. Each fragment length is considered an allele, and can be used in genetic analysis.

RFLP analysis may be subdivided into single- (SLP) and multi-locus probe (MLP) paradigms. Usually, the SLP method is preferred over MLP because it is more sensitive, easier to interpret and capable of analyzing mixed-DNA samples.[citation needed] Moreover data can be generated even when the DNA is degraded (e.g. when it is found in bone remains.)

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