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BMC Bioinformatics. 2009 Dec 10;10:411. doi: 10.1186/1471-2105-10-411.

An efficient algorithm for the stochastic simulation of the hybridization of DNA to microarrays.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA, USA.



Although oligonucleotide microarray technology is ubiquitous in genomic research, reproducibility and standardization of expression measurements still concern many researchers. Cross-hybridization between microarray probes and non-target ssDNA has been implicated as a primary factor in sensitivity and selectivity loss. Since hybridization is a chemical process, it may be modeled at a population-level using a combination of material balance equations and thermodynamics. However, the hybridization reaction network may be exceptionally large for commercial arrays, which often possess at least one reporter per transcript. Quantification of the kinetics and equilibrium of exceptionally large chemical systems of this type is numerically infeasible with customary approaches.


In this paper, we present a robust and computationally efficient algorithm for the simulation of hybridization processes underlying microarray assays. Our method may be utilized to identify the extent to which nucleic acid targets (e.g. cDNA) will cross-hybridize with probes, and by extension, characterize probe robustnessusing the information specified by MAGE-TAB. Using this algorithm, we characterize cross-hybridization in a modified commercial microarray assay.


By integrating stochastic simulation with thermodynamic prediction tools for DNA hybridization, one may robustly and rapidly characterize of the selectivity of a proposed microarray design at the probe and "system" levels. Our code is available at

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