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Crit Rev Microbiol. 2005;31(2):91-9.

Challenges and opportunities for pathogen detection using DNA microarrays.

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Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology and Center for Reproductive Biology, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington 99164-7040, USA.


DNA microarrays offer the potential for simultaneous detection of many pathogens that are of interest to homeland security, public health, medicine, and veterinary diagnostics. These tools are best suited for detecting the presence or absence of genetic sequences characteristic of specific pathogens, but microarrays are poorly suited for determining pathogen viability, and current methods provide only limited potential for pathogen enumeration. Two basic strategies have been described for pathogen detection: using enzymatic amplification to generate targets for interrogation with a microarray, or using direct interrogation of DNA or RNA without pre-amplification. Multiplex PCR has the advantage of a high degree of sensitivity and specificity, but associated microarrays are necessarily limited in scope. PCR-independent, whole-genome amplification eliminates biases inherent in PCR amplification and can accommodate more extensive microarrays, but assay sensitivity is compromised and these methods are probably of limited use when testing tissue samples. Direct hybridization of DNA or RNA provides the least bias in gene detection, but also the lowest level of analytic sensitivity. Ultimately, cost and limited sample throughput make it unlikely that planar microarrays will play a significant role in future pathogen detection schemes. Alternative microarray formats such as bead arrays, however, may circumvent the cost and throughput limitations and permit us to apply what we have learned from planar microarrays to develop robust pathogen detection systems. Assay validation and sample preparation will continue to be significant challenges for these detection systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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