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Microarray-Based Genomic DNA Profiling Technologies In Clinical Molecular Diagnostics

Yiping Shen, Bai-Lin Wu

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Abstract Background: Microarray-based genomic DNA profiling (MGDP) technologies are rapidly moving from translational research to clinical diagnostics and have revolutionized medical practices. Such technologies have shown great advantages in detecting genomic imbalances associated with genomic disorders and single-gene diseases. Content: We discuss the development and applications of the major array platforms that are being used in both academic and commercial laboratories. Although no standardized platform is expected to emerge soon, comprehensive oligonucleotide microarray platforms—both comparative genomic hybridization arrays and genotyping hybrid arrays—are rapidly becoming the methods of choice for their demonstrated analytical validity in detecting genomic imbalances, for their flexibility in incorporating customized designs and updates, and for the advantage of being easily manufactured. Copy number variants (CNVs), the form of genomic deletions/duplications detected through MGDP, are a common etiology for a variety of clinical phenotypes. The widespread distribution of CNVs poses great challenges in interpretation. A broad survey of CNVs in the healthy population, combined with the data accumulated from the patient population in clinical laboratories, will provide a better understanding of the nature of CNVs and enhance the power of identifying genetic risk factors for medical conditions. Summary: MGDP technologies for molecular diagnostics are still at an early stage but are rapidly evolving. We are in the process of extensive clinical validation and utility evaluation of different array designs and technical platforms. CNVs of currently unknown importance will be a rich source of novel discoveries.