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A RNA microarray platform is a method to evaluate gene expression by messenger RNA (mRNA) level in a sample. In general, a RNA microarray begins with the immobilization of single-stranded DNA oligonucleotides (probes), each representing a single gene, on a solid substrate to create a “chip”. Target complementary DNA (cDNA) or antisense RNA (aRNA or cRNA) is then generated from the sample to be analyzed and labeled, usually with fluorescent or chemiluminescent molecules. The single-stranded probes bind the complementary single-stranded target cDNA or aRNA in a process called hybridization. The results are then read by platform-specific scanners and analyzed by platform-specific software to correlate fluorescent or chemiluminescent intensity at each probe to gene expression. RNA microarray platforms vary by chip technology, cDNA vs aRNA targets, one-color vs two-color labeling, sensitivity, and the amount of starting material required. The applications of RNA microarrays include the study of gene regulation, cell fate determination, the identification of disease-related genes, analysis of the effects of drugs on gene expression, and tumor typing for personalized cancer treatments. (Credit: Brooke Anderson-White)
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