MY AMERICAN SCIENTIST
LOG IN! REGISTER!
SEARCH
 
RSS
Logo IMG

FEATURE ARTICLE

Gene Chips and Functional Genomics

A new technology will allow environmental health scientists to track the expression of thousands of genes in a single, fast and easy test

Hisham Hamadeh, Cynthia Afshari

Figure 6. Laser-based scannersClick to Enlarge Image

These past few years of scientific discovery will undoubtedly be remembered as the "genomics era," the period in which biologists succeeded in enumerating the sequence of nucleotides making up all, or at least most, of human DNA. And while this achievement has been heralded as a technological feat equal to the moon landing, it is only the first of many advances in DNA technology. Scientists are now faced with the task of understanding the meaning of the DNA sequence. Specifically, they want to learn how the DNA code relates to protein function. An important tool in the study of "functional genomics," is the cDNA microarray—also known as the gene chip. Inspired by computer microchips, gene chips allow scientists to monitor the expression of hundreds, even thousands, of genes in a fraction of the time it used to take to monitor the expression of a single one. By altering the conditions under which a particular tissue expresses genes—say, by exposing it to toxins or growth factors—scientists can determine the suite of genes expressed in different situations and hence start to get a handle on the function of these genes. The authors discuss this important new technology and some of its practical applications.


 Go to Article

 

EMAIL TO A FRIEND :

Subscribe to American Scientist