Microarrays are a powerful method for the global analysis of gene or protein content and expression, opening up new horizons in molecular and physiological systems. This review focuses on the critical aspects of acquiring meaningful data for analysis following fluorescence-based target hybridisation to arrays. Although microarray technology is adaptable to the analysis of a range of biomolecules (DNA, RNA, protein, carbohydrates and lipids), the scheme presented here is applicable primarily to customised DNA arrays fabricated using long oligomer or cDNA probes. Rather than provide a comprehensive review of microarray technology and analysis techniques, both of which are large and complex areas, the aim of this paper is to provide a restricted overview, highlighting salient features to provide initial guidance in terms of pitfalls in planning and executing array projects. We outline standard operating procedures, which help streamline the analysis of microarray data resulting from a diversity of array formats and biological systems. We hope that this overview will provide practical initial guidance for those embarking on microarray studies.
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