Microscopic beads or other structures are attached to nucleic acids (DNA) using a terminal transferase. The transferase adds labeled dideoxy nucleotide bases to the ends of linear strands of DNA. The labels, such as the antigens digoxigenin and biotin, bind to the antibody compounds or other appropriate complementary ligands, which are bound to the microscopic beads or other support structures. The method does not require the synthesis of a synthetic oligonucleotide probe. The method can be used to tag or label DNA even when the DNA has an unknown sequence, has blunt ends, or is a very large fragment (e.g., >500 kilobase pairs).
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.