Background: The wide use of Affymetrix microarray in broadened fields of biological research has made the probeset annotation an important issue. Standard Affymetrix probeset annotation is at gene level, i.e. a probeset is precisely linked to a gene, and probeset intensity is interpreted as gene expression. The increased knowledge that one gene may have multiple transcript variants clearly brings up the necessity of updating this gene-level annotation to a refined transcript-level.
Results: Through performing rigorous alignments of the Affymetrix probe sequences against a comprehensive pool of currently available transcript sequences, and further linking the probesets to the International Protein Index, we generated transcript-level or protein-level annotation tables for two popular Affymetrix expression arrays, Mouse Genome 430A 2.0 Array and Human Genome U133A Array. Application of our new annotations in re-examining existing expression data sets shows increased expression consistency among synonymous probesets and strengthened expression correlation between interacting proteins.
Conclusion: By refining the standard Affymetrix annotation of microarray probesets from the gene level to the transcript level and protein level, one can achieve a more reliable interpretation of their experimental data, which may lead to discovery of more profound regulatory mechanism.