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Biol Psychiatry. 1999 Mar 1;45(5):533-43.

Gene chips and arrays revealed: a primer on their power and their uses.

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  • 1Mental Health Research Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA.


This article provides an overview and general explanation of the rapidly developing area of gene chips and expression array technology. These are methods targeted at allowing the simultaneous study of thousands of genes or messenger RNAs under various physiological and pathological states. Their technical basis grows from the Human Genome Project. Both methods place DNA strands on glass computer chips (or microscope slides). Expression arrays start with complementary DNA (cDNA) clones derived from the EST data base, whereas Gene Chips synthesize oligonucleotides directly on the chip itself. Both are analyzed using image analysis systems, are capable of reading values from two different individuals at any one site, and can yield quantitative data for thousands of genes or mRNAs per slide. These methods promise to revolutionize molecular biology, cell biology, neuroscience and psychiatry. It is likely that this technology will radically open up our ability to study the actions and structure of the multiple genes involved in the complex genetics of brain disorders.

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