Gene numbers as measured by single-copy DNA saturation with mRNA are routinely overestimates

Abstract

A MAJOR experimental approach to the elucidation of the role of differential gene expression in developmental processes has been to measure the number of different mRNA sequences in eukaryotic cells1. This number has been obtained from the percentage of radioactive single-copy DNA rendered double-stranded during hybridisation with homologous mRNA. The percentage, appropriately corrected for the average size of mRNA and the chemical complexity of the unique DNA of the organisms, can be related to the total number of different genes expressed in the functional mRNAs of the cell type or tissue studied2. The number and distribution of different mRNA sequences can also be determined by hybridising radioactive cDNA with excess unlabelled mRNA and comparing its kinetics of hybridisation with a suitable kinetic standard3. However, here, I discuss the use of single-copy DNA saturation with mRNA, and suggest that gene numbers obtained in this way are routinely overestimates.

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KIPER, M. Gene numbers as measured by single-copy DNA saturation with mRNA are routinely overestimates. Nature 278, 279–280 (1979). https://doi.org/10.1038/278279a0

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