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Open Access Methodology

Synthetic long oligonucleotides to generate artificial templates for use as positive controls in molecular assays: drug resistance mutations in influenza virus as an example

Bin Wang1*, Megan C Steain12, Dominic E Dwyer13, Anthony L Cunningham1 and Nitin K Saksena1

Author Affiliations

1 Retroviral Genetics Laboratory, Centre for Virus Research, Westmead Millennium Institute, Westmead Hospital, The University of Sydney, Westmead, New South Wales 2145, Australia

2 Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, University of Sydney, Blackburn Building, 2006 NSW Australia

3 Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology (CIDM), Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research (ICPMR), Westmead, New South Wales 2145, Australia

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Virology Journal 2011, 8:405  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-8-405

Published: 16 August 2011



Positive controls are an integral component of any sensitive molecular diagnostic tool, but this can be affected, if several mutations are being screened in a scenario of a pandemic or newly emerging disease where it can be difficult to acquire all the necessary positive controls from the host. This work describes the development of a synthetic oligo-cassette for positive controls for accurate and highly sensitive diagnosis of several mutations relevant to influenza virus drug resistance.


Using influenza antiviral drug resistance mutations as an example by employing the utility of synthetic paired long oligonucleotides containing complementary sequences at their 3' ends and utilizing the formation of oligonucleotide dimers and DNA polymerization, we generated ~170bp dsDNA containing several known specific neuraminidase inhibitor (NAI) resistance mutations. These templates were further cloned and successfully applied as positive controls in downstream assays.


This approach significantly improved the development of diagnosis of resistance mutations in terms of time, accuracy, efficiency and sensitivity, which are paramount to monitoring the emergence and spread of antiviral drug resistant influenza strains. Thus, this may have a significantly broader application in molecular diagnostics along with its application in rapid molecular testing of all relevant mutations in an event of pandemic.