Global expression profiling by DNA microarrays provides a snapshot of cell and tissue status and becomes an essential tool in biological and medical sciences. Typical questions that can be addressed by microarray analysis in developmental biology include: (1) to find a set of genes expressed in a specific cell type; (2) to identify genes expressed commonly in multiple cell types; (3) to follow the time-course changes of gene expression patterns; (4) to demonstrate cell's identity by showing similarities or differences among two or multiple cell types; (5) to find regulatory pathways and/or networks affected by gene manipulations, such as overexpression or repression of gene expression; (6) to find downstream target genes of transcription factors; (7) to find downstream target genes of cell signaling; (8) to examine the effects of environmental manipulation of cells on gene expression patterns; and (9) to find the effects of genetic manipulation in embryos and adults. Here, we describe strategies for executing these experiments and monitoring changes of cell state with gene expression microarrays in application to mouse embryology. Both statistical assessment and interpretation of data are discussed. We also present a protocol for performing microarray analysis on a small amount of embryonic materials.
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