Genes carry information that is crucial for the synthesis of RNA and proteins. When a gene is transcribed, it is active; that is, corresponding RNA is synthesized and serves as template for the synthesis of a protein. Gene activity can vary importantly depending on multiple factors (e.g. cell type, stage of differentiation, nutrients, temperature).
Since the introduction of microarrays in the late 1990s they consistently gained wider interest by allowing scientists to answer new biological questions and spurring the development of new analysis approaches. Microarrays enable to simultaneously capture the activity of thousands of genes. Standard experimental setups aim to characterize and compare cellular responses to multiple factors (e.g. disease, nutrients, different cell types). To target the different questions, a range of different microarray platforms have been developed with characteristic advantages or special target areas such as the detection of alternatively spliced genes or expressed non-coding RNAs.
We offer assistance for all stages of microarray experiments ranging from the planning stage to data pre-processing and advanced network based bioinformatics analyses. Data preprocessing steps include normalization to render different measurements comparable, clustering to detect patterns of coexpressed genes, sample classification to identify diagnostic features or predict clinical outcomes and the determination of the best genes to differentiate between different cellular states or experimental conditions. We also develop and regularly apply advanced methods, for instance the utilization of prior knowledge in the form of publication abstracts or gene ontologies that help to interpret experimental results in the context of biological networks.