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The PCR-amplification of unknown homologous or paralogous genes generally relies on PCR primers predicted from multi sequence alignments. But increasing sequence divergence can induce the need to use degenerate primers which entails the problem of testing the characteristics, unwanted interactions and potential mispriming of degenerate primers. Here I introduce easyPAC, a new software for the prediction of degenerate primers from multi sequence alignments or single consensus sequences. As a major innovation, easyPAC allows to apply all customary primer test procedures to degenerate primer sequences including fast mapping to reference files. Thus, easyPAC simplifies and expedites the designing of specific degenerate primers enormously. Degenerate primers suggested by easyPAC were used in PCR amplification with subsequent de novo sequencing of TDRD1 exon 11 homologs from several representatives of the haplorrhine primate phylogeny. The results demonstrate the efficient performance of the suggested primers and therefore show that easyPAC can advance upcoming comparative genetic studies.
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