Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)
Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) is a laboratory technique combining reverse transcription of RNA into DNA (in this context called complementary DNA or cDNA) and amplification of specific DNA targets using polymerase chain reaction (PCR). It is primarily used to measure the amount of a specific RNA. This is achieved by monitoring the amplification reaction using fluorescence, a technique called real-time PCR or quantitative PCR (qPCR). Combined RT-PCR and qPCR are routinely used for analysis of gene expression and quantification of viral RNA in research and clinical settings.
The close association between RT-PCR and qPCR has led to metonymic use of the term qPCR to mean RT-PCR. Such use may be confusing, as RT-PCR can be used without qPCR, for example to enable molecular cloning, sequencing or simple detection of RNA. Conversely, qPCR may be used without RT-PCR, for example to quantify the copy number of a specific piece of DNA.