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Microarrays: Everything Counts in
Large Amounts
Microarrays are glass slides for microscopy, on which molecules of all kinds
can be immobilized. With the help of
DNA microarrays one can compare two
biological samples, for example, tumor
and normal tissue, for the activity of all
the genes in those samples. Through this
technique specific gene-expression patterns are obtained, which can be used
for the diagnosis or prediction of diseases, and which also contain potential
target genes for new therapeutics. Microarrays, on which the first publication
appeared in 1995, have therefore become popular tools for genome researchers. However, the introduction of
microarray technology in a molecularbiology laboratory requires the systematic analysis of a large number of
experimental parameters. Thus, access
to established protocols can save a great
deal of work.
Such information is available at (Figure 1). Under the
link “Protocols” there is a well-structured overview of different methods as
well as an array of detailed protocols on
the processing of microarrays, the preparation of samples and hybridization
(RNA isolation and sample labeling,
PCR-product synthesis), and scanning.
Unfortunately, the protocols are limited
Figure 1. Protocols and more.
to poly-l-lysine-coated glass surfaces
and do not cover any newer active
surfaces. However, the protocols are
reliable and can be used directly in
the laboratory.
The analysis of microarray data
lies at the interface of biology, statistics, and computer science. The
link “Software” offers access to the
three main aspects of microarraydata interpretation: image analysis
(spot finding and quantification),
data analysis, and database. The tools
accessible there are among those
most often used by the microarray
community, but are far from com- Figure 2. BioChipNet: Research and industry news.
prehensive. It is advisable to browse
the Internet for further and newer
important events and dates can be found
methods, especially for data analysis.
Somewhat hidden under “Main under “Meetings”. Under the link “LitPage” is the link to general “Science erature” is a database that contains
News” of the University of California, more than 2000 references to selected
San Francisco (UCSF) and further op- publications. Information can be found
portunities to familiarize oneself with on topics of interest with the help of
the world of microarrays. To be recom- keywords. The user has free access to
mended in particular are the “Lab abstracts, but a fee is charged for access
Links”, where other protagonists in to certain full texts. Finally, a particumicroarray technology are to be found larly useful function can be found under
along with their experimental methods. “Glossary”: From “2D-PAGE” to “vecThose who would like more infor- tor”, current terms used in biotechnolmation on new developments, important ogy are briefly explained. If the website
dates, and providers on the biochip were to include a short introduction to
market, will find it at BioChipNet (Fig- biochip manufacture,[1] the current state
ure 2), a German community initiative of technology, and future perspectives,
of the Naturwissenschaftliches und BioChipNet would leave almost nothing
Medizinisches Institut (NMI) T7bingen, to be desired.
Biomedical Informatics Heidelberg, and
In conclusion, and
the Bachmann Science Information BioChipNet offer a good introduction to
Service. On the clearly designed home the world of microarrays. They help with
page a large collection of current head- the rapid implementation of experimenlines from the field of biochip technol- tal methods and data analysis in the
ogy are sorted by date. The website molecular-biology laboratory and offer
branches out from here. It is possible to comprehensive information about proinvestigate which providers are active viders, relevant literature references,
on the biochip market under the link patents, and important events.
“Companies”. The list of companies on
which detailed information about com- Holger Sltmann
pany location, products, patents, publi- Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum Heications, and cooperation partners can delberg (Germany)
be obtained is impressive. For more in- Reiner Dahint
depth research there is a direct link to Universitt Heidelberg (Germany)
the respective home pages available.
However, some searches would be
[1] M. C. Pirrung, Angew. Chem. 2002, 114,
more effective if it were possible to
1326; Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2002, 41, 1276.
narrow a search down by means of
keywords to companies involved in a
For more information visit
This is by no means all the infor
mation available. A list of the most
# 2003 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2003, 42, 3982
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