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A DNA microarray (also commonly known as gene or genome chip, DNA chip, or gene array) is a collection of microscopic DNA spots, commonly representing single genes, arrayed on a solid surface by covalent attachment to a chemical matrix. DNA arrays are different from other types of microarray only in that they either measure DNA or use DNA as part of its detection system. Qualitative or quantitative measurements with DNA microarrays utilize the selective nature of DNA-DNA or DNA-RNA hybridization under high-stringency conditions and fluorophore-based detection. DNA arrays are commonly used for expression profiling, i.e., monitoring expression levels of thousands of genes simultaneously, or for comparative genomic hybridization.
Arrays of DNA can either be spatially arranged, as in the commonly known gene or genome chip, DNA chip, or gene array, or can be specific DNA sequences tagged or labelled such that they can be independently identified in solution. The traditional solid-phase array is a collection of microscopic DNA spots attached to a solid surface, such as glass, plastic or silicon chip. The affixed DNA segments are known as probes (although some sources will use different nomenclature such as reporters), thousands of which can be placed in known locations on a single DNA microarray. Microarray technology evolved from Southern blotting, whereby fragmented DNA is attached to a substrate and then probed with a known gene or fragment. DNA microarrays can be used to detect DNA (e.g., in comparative genomic hybridization); it also permits detection of RNA (most commonly as cDNA after reverse transcription) that may or may not be translated into proteins, which is referred to as "expression analysis" or expression profiling.
Since there can be tens of thousands of distinct probes on an array, each microarray experiment can potentially accomplish the equivalent number of genetic tests in parallel. Arrays have therefore dramatically accelerated many types of investigations. The use of a collection of distinct DNAs in arrays for expression profiling was first described in 1987, and the arrayed DNAs were used to identify genes whose expression is modulated by interferon.  These early gene arrays were made by spotting cDNAs onto filter paper with a pin-spotting device. The use of miniaturized microarrays for gene expression profiling was first reported in 1995,  and a complete eukaryotic genome (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) on a microarray was published in 1997. 
Applications of these arrays include:
Microarrays can by manufactured in different ways, depending on the number of probes under examination, costs, customization requirements, and the type of scientific question being asked. Arrays may have as few as 10 probes to up to 390,000 micron-scale probes from commercial vendors.
Spotted vs. oligonucleotide arrays
Microarrays can be fabricated using a variety of technologies, including printing with fine-pointed pins onto glass slides, photolithography using pre-made masks, photolithography using dynamic micromirror devices, ink-jet printing,  or electrochemistry on microelectrode arrays.
In spotted microarrays, the probes are oligonucleotides, cDNA or small fragments of PCR products that correspond to mRNAs. There probes are synthesized prior to deposition on the array surface and are then "spotted" onto glass. A common approach utilizes an array of fine pins or needles controlled by a robotic arm that is dipped into wells containing DNA probes and then depositing each probe at designated locations on the array surface. The resulting "grid" of probes represents the nucleic acid profiles of the prepared probes and is ready to receive complementary cDNA or cRNA "targets" derived from experimental or clinical samples.
Two-color vs. one-color detection
Two-Color microarrays are typically hybridized with cDNA prepared from two samples to be compared (e.g. diseased tissue versus healthy tissue) and that are labeled with two different fluorophores.  Fluorescent dyes commonly used for cDNA labelling include Cy3, which has a fluorescence emission wavelength of 570 nm (corresponding to the green part of the light spectrum), and Cy5 with a fluorescence emission wavelength of 670 nm (corresponding to the red part of the light spectrum). The two Cy-labelled cDNA samples are mixed and hybridized to a single microarray that is then scanned in a microarray scanner to visualize fluorescence of the two fluorophores after excitation with a laser beam of a defined wavelength. Relative intensities of each fluorophore may then be used in ratio-based analysis to identify up-regulated and down-regulated genes. 
Oligonucleotide microarrays often contain control probes designed to hybridize with RNA spike-ins. The degree of hybridization between the spike-ins and the control probes is used to normalize the hybridization measurements for the target probes. Although absolute levels of gene expression may be determined in the two-color array, the relative differences in expression among different spots within a sample and between samples is the preferred method of data analysis for the two-color system. Examples of providers for such microarrays includes Agilent with their Dual-Mode platform, Eppendorf with their DualChip platform, and TeleChem International with ArrayIt.
In single-channel microarrays or one-color microarrays, the arrays are designed to give estimations of the absolute levels of gene expression. Therefore the comparison of two conditions requires two separate single-dye hybridizations. As only a single dye is used, the data collected represent absolute values of gene expression. These may be compared to other genes within a sample or to reference "normalizing" probes used to calibrate data across the entire array and across multiple arrays. Two popular single-channel systems are the Affymetrix "Gene Chip" and GE Healthcare "Code Link" arrays. One strength of the single-dye system lies in the fact that an aberrant sample cannot affect the raw data derived from other samples, because each array chip is exposed to only one sample (as opposed to a two-color system in which a single low-quality sample may drastically impinge on overall data precision even if the other sample was of high quality). Another benefit is that data are more easily compared to arrays from different experiments; the absolute values of gene expression may be compared between studies conducted months or years apart. A drawback to the one-color system is that, when compared to the two-color system, twice as many microarrays are needed to compare samples within an experiment.
DNA microarrays can also be used to scan the entire sequence of a genome to identify genetic variation at certain locations.
SNP microarrays are a type of DNA microarray that are used to identify genetic variation in individuals and across populations. 
The lack of standardization in arrays presents an interoperability problem in bioinformatics, which hinders the exchange of array data. Various grass-roots open-source projects are attempting to facilitate the exchange and analysis of data produced with non-proprietary chips.
The analysis of DNA microarrays poses a large number of statistical problems, including the normalization of the data. There are dozens of proposed normalization methods in the published literature; as in many other cases where authorities disagree, a sound conservative approach is to try a number of popular normalization methods and compare the conclusions reached: how sensitive are the main conclusions to the method chosen?
From a hypothesis-testing perspective, the large number of genes present on a single array means that the experimenter must take into account a multiple testing problem: even if the statistical P-value assigned to a given gene indicates that it is extremely unlikely that differential expression of this gene was due to random rather than treatment effects, the very high number of genes on an array makes it likely that differential expression of some genes represent false positives or false negatives. Statistical methods tailored to microarray analyses have recently become available that assess statistical power based on the variation present in the data and the number of experimental replicates, and can help minimize type I and type II errors in the analyses.
A basic difference between microarray data analysis and much traditional biomedical research is the dimensionality of the data. A large clinical study might collect 100 data items per patient for thousands of patients. A medium-size microarray study will obtain many thousands of numbers per sample for perhaps a hundred samples. Many analysis techniques treat each sample as a single point in a space with thousands of dimensions, then attempt by various techniques to reduce the dimensionality of the data to something humans can visualize.
Relation between probe and gene
The relation between a probe and the mRNA that it is expected to detect is problematic. On the one hand, some mRNAs may cross-hybridize probes in the array that are supposed to detect another mRNA. On the other hand, probes that are designed to detect the mRNA of a particular gene may be relying on genomic EST information that is incorrectly associated with that gene.
Public databases of microarray data
Online microarray data-analysis programs and tools
Several Open Directory Project categories list online microarray data analysis programs and tools:
Notable microarray-related articles
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "DNA_microarray". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|