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Open Access Software

MELTING, a flexible platform to predict the melting temperatures of nucleic acids

Marine Dumousseau, Nicolas Rodriguez, Nick Juty and Nicolas Le Novère*

Author Affiliations

EMBL-EBI, Wellcome-Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton CB10 1SD, UK

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BMC Bioinformatics 2012, 13:101  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-13-101

Published: 16 May 2012

Abstract

Background

Computing accurate nucleic acid melting temperatures has become a crucial step for the efficiency and the optimisation of numerous molecular biology techniques such as in situ hybridization, PCR, antigene targeting, and microarrays. MELTING is a free open source software which computes the enthalpy, entropy and melting temperature of nucleic acids. MELTING 4.2 was able to handle several types of hybridization such as DNA/DNA, RNA/RNA, DNA/RNA and provided corrections to melting temperatures due to the presence of sodium. The program can use either an approximative approach or a more accurate Nearest-Neighbor approach.

Results

Two new versions of the MELTING software have been released. MELTING 4.3 is a direct update of version 4.2, integrating newly available thermodynamic parameters for inosine, a modified adenine base with an universal base capacity, and incorporates a correction for magnesium. MELTING 5 is a complete reimplementation which allows much greater flexibility and extensibility. It incorporates all the thermodynamic parameters and corrections provided in MELTING 4.x and introduces a large set of thermodynamic formulae and parameters, to facilitate the calculation of melting temperatures for perfectly matching sequences, mismatches, bulge loops, CNG repeats, dangling ends, inosines, locked nucleic acids, 2-hydroxyadenines and azobenzenes. It also includes temperature corrections for monovalent ions (sodium, potassium, Tris), magnesium ions and commonly used denaturing agents such as formamide and DMSO.

Conclusions

MELTING is a useful and very flexible tool for predicting melting temperatures using approximative formulae or Nearest-Neighbor approaches, where one can select different sets of Nearest-Neighbor parameters, corrections and formulae. Both versions are freely available at http://sourceforge.net/projects/melting/ webciteand at http://www.ebi.ac.uk/compneur-srv/melting/ webciteunder the terms of the GPL license.