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Methods Enzymol. 1999;303:205-33.

Construction and analysis of arrayed cDNA libraries.

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  • 1Max Planck Institut für Molekulare Genetik, Berlin, Dahlem, Germany.


For any attempt to understand the biology of an organism the incorporation of a cDNA-based approach is unavoidable, because it is a major approach to studying gene function. The complete sequence of the genome alone is not sufficient to understand any organism; its gene regulation, expression, splice variation, posttranslational modifications, and protein-protein interactions all need to be addressed. Because the majority of vertebrate genes have probably been identified as ESTs the next stage of the Human Genome Project is attributing functional information to these sequences. In most cases hybridization-based approaches on arrayed pieces of DNA represent the most efficient way to study the expression level and splicing of a gene in a given tissue. Similar technology, now being applied at the protein level using protein expression libraries, high-density protein membranes, and antibody screening, should allow studies of protein localization and modifications. Coupled to these approaches is the use of technologies, which although lacking the highly parallel nature of hybridization, can potentially characterize large numbers of samples individually and with high accuracy. Automated gel-based DNA sequencing is an example of such a technique; protein sequencing and mass fingerprinting are further examples. In the case of mass spectroscopic analysis, the speed and sensitivity are vastly superior to that of gel-based approaches; however, the preparation of samples is more tedious. Our laboratory is developing a system to characterize DNA samples by mass spectrometry, allowing more rapid genotyping than is currently possible using gel-based technologies ([symbol: see text]. Gut, [symbol: see text]. Berlin and H. Lehrach, personal communication, 1998). Such technology would make information on gene polymorphisms widely accessible. Data generated using all of these techniques at the DNA and protein level will be connected by both protein expression libraries and database comparisons; finally, two hybrid library screens will identify many of the protein-protein interactions, linking genes together. In this way we will start to understand the interplay between genes on a global scale, both at the level of molecular interaction and the biological processes they regulate.

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