In the field of molecular biology, gene expression profiling is the measurement of the activity (the expression) of thousands of genes at once, to create a global picture of cellular function. These profiles can, for example, distinguish between cells that are actively dividing, or show how the cells react to a particular treatment. Many experiments of this sort measure an entire genome simultaneously, that is, every gene present in a particular cell.

DNA microarray technology measures the relative activity of previously identified target genes. Sequence based techniques, like serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE, SuperSAGE) are also used for gene expression profiling. SuperSAGE is especially accurate and can measure any active gene, not just a predefined set. The advent of next-generation sequencing has made sequence based expression analysis an increasingly popular, “digital” alternative to microarrays called RNA-Seq. However, microarrays are far more common, accounting for 17,000 PubMed articles by 2006.

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