Single DNA molecule analysis: applications of molecular combing

Brief Funct Genomic Proteomic. 2003 Jan;1(4):385-96. doi: 10.1093/bfgp/1.4.385.


Dynamic changes to the genomic structure and to the DNA replication programme are important determinants of normal and abnormal cell development. To understand these changes and how they vary from cell to cell, single DNA molecules from both normal and abnormal cell populations must be examined and compared. Physical characterisation of single genomes at the kilobase level of resolution over large genomic regions is possible with molecular combing technology. An array of combed single DNA molecules is prepared by stretching molecules attached by their extremities to a silanised glass surface with a receding air-water meniscus. By performing fluorescent hybridisation on combed DNA, genomic probe position can be directly visualised, providing a means to construct physical maps and detect micro-rearrangements. Single-molecule DNA replication can also be monitored through fluorescent detection of incorporated nucleotide analogues on combed DNA molecules. These and other single-molecule applications of molecular combing are discussed in this paper and future developments of the technology are considered.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / genetics*
  • DNA Probes
  • DNA Replication
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence


  • DNA Probes
  • DNA