'Electronic PCR' (e-PCR) refers to a computational procedure that is used to search DNA sequences for sequence tagged sites (STSs), each of which is defined by a pair of primer sequences and an expected PCR product size. To gain speed, our implementation extracts short 'words' from the 3' end of each primer and stores them in a sorted hash table that can be accessed efficiently during the search. One recent improvement is the use of overlapping discontinuous words to allow matches to be found despite the presence of a mismatch. Moreover, it is possible to allow gaps in the alignment between the primer and the sequence. The effect of these changes is to improve sensitivity without significantly affecting specificity. The new software provides a search mode using a query STS against a sequence database to augment the previously available mode using a query sequence against an STS database. Finally, e-PCR may now be used through a web service, with search results linked to other web resources such as the UniSTS database and the MapViewer genome browser. The e-PCR web server may be found at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sutils/e-pcr.
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