RNA Sequencing – An Introduction

News Medical Life Sciences by By Catherine Shaffer, M.Sc. – If DNA is the fundamental code of the genome, RNA is the message. Genes are made active through the process of transcribing the code into RNA, and then translating RNA into DNA. This is known as the central dogma of molecular biology.


Recently, it’s become apparent that RNA has many other roles to play than as a messenger for the DNA code. RNA can have enzymatic activity, regulate gene expression, and transmit signals. RNA is also an important part of the ribosome, a cellular machine for assembling proteins.

The sequence of all RNAs in an organism is known as the transcriptome. Just as sequencing the genome has been important for understanding the structure and function of genes, sequencing the transcriptome can reveal the diverse functions and interactions of all of the RNA molecules in an organism.

But unlike the genome, the transcriptome varies depending on the stage of life of the organism and its physiological condition. The transcriptome is thus proportionately larger and more complex than the genome.

The use of next generation sequencing

Next generation sequencing technology has been used to develop RNA-Seq, a high throughput, deep sequencing approach for transcriptomes. Previous RNA sequencing methods have been based on high-density microarrays or genomic tiling. These methods are limited in that they rely on existing knowledge of the sequence and can be complicated to analyze.

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