Techniques and experiments in molecular biology employed in the study of infectious diseases greatly rely on information obtained by studying the genetic material from pathogens or of infected individuals. It is important that the laboratory work areas are clean and free from nucleases that can degrade DNA or RNA.
Aside from work areas, commonly used materials and supplies must also be free fromDNases and RNases. These nucleases are present in most biological excretions, including sweat and saliva. Without proper management, normal human handling of materials and supplies can contaminate these with nucleases and may affect downstream processing of nucleic acids. It is important to note that RNA is more sensitive to destruction and degradation because of its molecular structure, and as such, more should be given to handling RNAextracted samples.
Commonly used glassware are routinely decontaminated and washed before using again. Plastic supplies purchased from manufacturers are generally sterile, single-use only and disposable. For non-disposable plasticware, decontamination and sterilization is done differently since certain plastics cannot be sterilized by autoclaving. Both glassware and plastic supplies must be DMPC-treated to deactivate nucleases before using in any laboratory procedure, except if the purchased plastic supplies are already DNase-free and RNase-free as indicated from the supplier or manufacturer. DMPC inactivates enzymes by reacting with the amine, hydroxyl and thiol groups of proteins by methoxy carbonylation of the histidine residues. Treatment of glassware and plastic supplies with DMPC effectively renders your nucleases nonfunctional, and safe for use with nucleic acid processing.
DMPC is a safer alternative to the more popularly used DEPC, which is a known carcinogen.