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Moving Chips to the Clinic - Making DNA Microarrays



Making DNA Microarrays Many bits of single-stranded DNA corresponding to specific genes are arrayed on a small glass or plastic slide on a grid. Messenger RNA (mRNA) is extracted from the sample, converted to complementary DNA (cDNA) to make it easier to work with, and a fluorescent label is added.  (mRNA is the molecule produced when a gene is turned on.) The fluorescently tagged cDNA sample is applied to the microarray.  If the sample contains a sequence that matches the single-stranded DNA on the chip, those complementary strands will bind. The resulting fluorescent signal corresponds to the quantity of that gene in the sample.  The array is scanned to measure the amount of fluorescent label, and a picture is generated showing how much each gene on the chip was expressed in the sample, relative to the other genes that were studied.
ILLUSTRATION BY ANNIE BISSET


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