Imagine the looks on Watson and Crick’s faces if you had told them about DNA microarrays while they were solving DNA’s structure – probably just as shocked as we would be now if someone from the future told us about their latest DNA technology.
DNA microarrays – DNA oligonucleotides arrayed in thousands of spots on a glass slide or silicon chip (gene chip) – enabled an exciting leap in throughput for a wide range of applications. Perhaps best known for their use in screening, DNA microarrays have also advanced the pace of disease research. DNA microarrays are becoming more capable of differentiating between shorter lengths of sequence, leading to greater resolution in array-based CGH experiments (also called aCGH). CGH detects differences in DNA copy number between a reference genome and the genome of interest (say, from healthy control tissue vs. cancerous tissue). These types of genetic changes, such as microdeletions and amplifications, can occur with disease or with birth defects.