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Open Access Research article

Cross-species hybridisation of human and bovine orthologous genes on high density cDNA microarrays

James Adjaye1*, Ralf Herwig1, Doris Herrmann2, Wasco Wruck1, Alia BenKahla1, Thore C Brink1, Monika Nowak2, Joseph W Carnwath2, Claus Hultschig1, Heiner Niemann2 and Hans Lehrach1

Author Affiliations

1 Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, (Department of Vertebrate Genomics), Ihnestrasse 73, D-14195, Berlin, Germany

2 Institute for Animal Science, (Department of Biotechnology), Mariensee, 31535 Neustadt, Germany

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BMC Genomics 2004, 5:83  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-5-83

Published: 28 October 2004



Cross-species gene-expression comparison is a powerful tool for the discovery of evolutionarily conserved mechanisms and pathways of expression control. The usefulness of cDNA microarrays in this context is that broad areas of homology are compared and hybridization probes are sufficiently large that small inter-species differences in nucleotide sequence would not affect the analytical results. This comparative genomics approach would allow a common set of genes within a specific developmental, metabolic, or disease-related gene pathway to be evaluated in experimental models of human diseases. The objective of this study was to investigate the feasibility and reproducibility of cross-species analysis employing a human cDNA microarray as probe.


As a proof of principle, total RNA derived from human and bovine fetal brains was used as a source of labelled targets for hybridisation onto a human cDNA microarray composed of 349 characterised genes. Each gene was spotted 20 times representing 6,980 data points thus enabling highly reproducible spot quantification. Employing high stringency hybridisation and washing conditions, followed by data analysis, revealed slight differences in the expression levels and reproducibility of the signals between the two species. We also assigned each of the genes into three expression level categories- i.e. high, medium and low. The correlation co-efficient of cross hybridisation between the orthologous genes was 0.94. Verification of the array data by semi-quantitative RT-PCR using common primer sequences enabled co-amplification of both human and bovine transcripts. Finally, we were able to assign gene names to previously uncharacterised bovine ESTs.


Results of our study demonstrate the harnessing and utilisation power of comparative genomics and prove the feasibility of using human microarrays to facilitate the identification of co-expressed orthologous genes in common tissues derived from different species.