Nucleic acid amplification is an essential process in biological systems. The in vitro adoption of this process has resulted in powerful techniques that underpin modern molecular biology. The most common tool is polymerase chain reaction (PCR). However, the requirement for a thermal cycler has somewhat limited applications of this classic nucleic acid amplification technique. Isothermal amplification, on the other hand, obviates the use of a thermal cycler because reactions occur at a single temperature. Isothermal amplification methods are diverse, but all have been developed from an understanding of natural nucleic acid amplification processes. Here we review current isothermal amplification methods as classified by their enzymatic mechanisms. We compare their advantages, disadvantages, efficiencies, and applications. Finally, we mention some new developments associated with this technology, and consider future possibilities in molecular engineering and recombinant technologies that may develop from an appreciation of the molecular biology of natural systems.
Biosensors and Bioelectronics / Vol. 64, pp.196-211