Microarrays and Brain Research

Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. 2003.


DNA microarrays have become a popular tool to simultaneously profile the expression of thousands of transcripts in response to experimental manipulation or abnormal states of biological systems. However, neuroscience presents significant challenges to the use of microarray technology because of high tissue complexity, low abundance transcripts and low magnitude but biologically significant changes in gene expression levels. We have investigated the performance of DNA microarrays (primarily Affymetrix Gene Chips) with regard to detection sensitivity and the ability to discover subtle expression changes in complex neuronal tissue. We have used animal models with predictive value to analyze microarray data for expected results in order to address these issues. We have also focused on novel findings from such experiments for follow-up confirmation using both real-time PCR and in situ hybridization techniques. This report discusses both the powers of microarrays in discovery of coordinated transcriptional regulation as well as the limitations of this technology in neuroscience research.