A Diamond in the Rough: New Applications of Diamond Nucleic Acid Dye

Diamond™ Nucleic Acid Dye (Cat# H1181) is a safe, inexpensive and sensitive fluorescent dye option that binds to single-stranded and double-stranded DNA and RNA. Diamond™ Dye typically is used for staining electrophoresis gels to visualize nucleic acids in a similar to its carcinogenic counterpart, ethidium bromide. However Diamond™ Dye has several advantages: gels stained with Diamond™ Dye can be visualized using either UV or blue-light transilluminators. Also, a wash step after staining is not necessary when using Diamond™ Dye, unlike what is typically recommended for ethidium bromide.

Besides staining electrophoresis gels, there are other applications for this diamond in the rough. Highlighted below are two fascinating uses of this multifaceted tool: touch DNA localization and qPCR detection.

Touch DNA localization. Touch DNA is DNA from epithelial cells that are left behind after we touch something, typically within a fingerprint, or a lip print. This touch DNA can then be amplified and evaluated for short tandem repeats, or STRs, which can help identify or clear a suspect. During investigation of a crime scene, it can be difficult to determine exactly where to look for touch DNA. Tonkrongjun et al. studied the use of fluorescent nucleic acid dyes to detect areas containing touch DNA. They determined that when the fluorescent dyes, including Diamond™ dye, are sprayed onto items, the touch DNA fluoresces. This allows faster and easier fingerprint detection and collection for further analysis, including direct PCR for STR amplification. Read the full journal article here.

Detection dye in qPCR. The most commonly used fluorescent dye for qPCR is SYBR Green. However, SYBR Green has low fluorescence and can inhibit PCR at high concentrations. SYBR Green is also highly mutagenic. Haines et al. evaluated and optimized Diamond™ Dye for use in qPCR and high-resolution melt (HRM) curve analysis. They found that Diamond™ Dye is a suitable alternative to the most common fluorescent dyes available today. As a bonus, Diamond™ Dye is costs less! Read the full journal article here.

Literature Cited

Kipipit, T. et al. (2017) Touch DNA localization and direct PCR: An improved workflow for STR typing from improvise explosive devices. Forensic Science International: Genetics Supplement Series 6, e610–e612.

Linacre, A., Tobe, S.S. and Haines, A. M. (2018) Optimization of Diamond Nucleic Acid Dye for Quantitative PCR Biotechniques 61, 183–189.

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Leah Cronan
Leah is a Product Specialist at Promega, managing the Molecular Cloning Products. She earned her BS in Microbiology and a Minor in Spanish at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, and her MS in Bacteriology studying alternatives to antibiotics at the University of Wisconsin Madison. She fell in love with microbiology in 9th grade after reading The Hot Zone by Richard Preston. She also very much enjoys documentaries, landscape embroidery, backpacking, baking, and puns. She makes horrible science puns, but only periodically.

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