Advances In Genomics Technology

As demands for sequencing, mapping, and identifying human genes moved ahead, so did efforts to find new ways for rapidly acquiring, storing, and analyzing genomic information while maintaining or improving sensitivity and reliability. In numerous instances, scientists whose immediate interests lay outside biology lent their expertise to help achieve these ends.

In 1982, the GenBank database was established to centralize and streamline the storage and accessibility of genomic information and to set in motion the design of tools for computational analysis of genomic information.120 Then current technology could only read out short lengths of DNA, about 300 bases, and in 1986, investigators first applied fluorescence detection to Sanger's method of analysis to demonstrate the practicality of automated DNA sequence analysis.11 The concept of immobilizing probe collections on a membrane as in the reverse dot blot methodology led to the idea of DNA microarrays ("gene chips'') by generating generic arrays of probe sets and fixing them to solid supports to permit high-throughput screening applications.121 MALDI-TOF MS, a technology borrowed from chemistry, was adapted to the analysis of proteins and DNA, and the combination of its speed and accuracy gave this technique a role in genome sequencing and diagnosis.122 The yeast two-hybrid assay system provided a simple and sensitive means of identifying protein-protein interactions that were amenable to large-scale, high-throughput analysis.18,123 Brief accounts of the origin and development of these revolutionary technologies are presented below.

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