Differential display. A general protocol

Mol Biotechnol. 1998 Dec;10(3):261-7. doi: 10.1007/BF02740847.


Characterization of regulated gene expression in eukaryotic cells is essential for studying cell growth and differentiation as well as for understanding the molecular mechanisms of diseases. Differential display was developed for such comparative studies by allowing a systematic and nonbiased screening for molecular differences at the level of mRNA expression between or among different cells or tissues. The essence of the method is to amplify messenger RNA 3' termini using a pair of anchored oligo-dT primer and a short primer with an arbitrary sequence. The amplified cDNAs labeled with radioisotope are then distributed on a denaturing polyacrylamide gel and visualized by autoradiography. Side-by-side comparison of mRNA species from two or more related samples allows identification of both up- and downregulation genes of interest. Some of the most recent improvements have been incorporated into this general protocol for differential display.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Line
  • Deoxyribonuclease I / chemistry
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Deoxyribonuclease I