We have developed RNA expression microarrays (REMs), in which each spot on a glass support is composed of a population of cDNAs synthesized from a cell or tissue sample. We used simultaneous hybridization with test and reference (housekeeping) genes to calculate an expression ratio based on normalization with the endogenous reference gene. A test REM containing artificial mixtures of liver cDNA and dilutions of the bacterial LysA gene cDNA demonstrated the feasibility of detecting transcripts at a sensitivity of four copies of LysA mRNA per liver cell equivalent. Furthermore, LysA cDNA detection varied linearly across a standard curve that matched the sensitivity of quantitative real-time PCR. In REMs with real samples, we detected organ-specific expression of albumin, Hnf-4 and Igfbp-1, in a set of mouse organ cDNA populations and c-Myc expression in tumor samples in paired tumor/normal tissue cDNA samples. REMs extend the use of classic microarrays in that a single REM can contain cDNAs from hundreds to thousands of cell or tissue samples each representing a specific physiological or pathophysiological state. REMs will extend the analysis of valuable samples by providing a common broad based platform for their analysis and will promote research aimed at defining gene functions, by broadening our understanding of their expression patterns in health and disease.
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