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Comparative genomic hybridization.

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Comprehensive Cancer Center, Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.


Altering DNA copy number is one of the many ways that gene expression and function may be modified. Some variations are found among normal individuals ( 14, 35, 103 ), others occur in the course of normal processes in some species ( 33 ), and still others participate in causing various disease states. For example, many defects in human development are due to gains and losses of chromosomes and chromosomal segments that occur prior to or shortly after fertilization, whereas DNA dosage alterations that occur in somatic cells are frequent contributors to cancer. Detecting these aberrations, and interpreting them within the context of broader knowledge, facilitates identification of critical genes and pathways involved in biological processes and diseases, and provides clinically relevant information. Over the past several years array comparative genomic hybridization (array CGH) has demonstrated its value for analyzing DNA copy number variations. In this review we discuss the state of the art of array CGH and its applications in medical genetics and cancer, emphasizing general concepts rather than specific results.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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