DNA and mRNA Sequencing Technology

Using mRNA in DNA Sequencing

This article looks at the usage and development of messenger Ribonucleic Acid (mRNA) in DNA or gene sequencing. In particular, it will discuss DNA sequencing technology and software and how it is used.

DNA Sequencing

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a chemical contained inside the nucleus of the billions of cells that make up the human body. The role of the DNA is to provide the basic genetic instructions for cells.

In humans, the genome is composed of 23 pairs of chromosomes which are further divided into over 30,000 smaller regions called genes. These pairs of chromosomes are organised into the long structures that make up the DNA molecule. The DNA molecule is made up of the well known shape of two twisted rope ladders turning around each other.

If we look closer at the DNA genes, we see that every gene is contains a base of adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C), and guanine (G). The order of these bases on their phosphate backbone governs their DNA sequence.

mRNA and DNA

RNA is similar to DNA because both are nucleic acids but their compositions differ and RNA is single stranded as opposed to double for DNA. There are different types of RNA, but this article will focus on mRNA.

mRNA is a messenger RNA that creates a template for protein synthesis and, these proteins then guide cells functions. The mRNA is therefore a partial copy of the sequence of the DNA. In other words, the mRNA contains a genetic code which is arranged in the same order of bases as the DNA.

mRNA and Gene Sequencing Technology

Gene Analysis uses DNA and RNA in order to study genetic diseases. Scientists look at the genetic makeup in order to analysis how they affect a body's probability of developing a disease. In researching the differing genetic make ups, scientists can get closer to understanding complex diseases.

According to Dr Beutler in Medscape Neurology, when utilizing mRNA sequencing -via high throughput sequencing technologies- the scientist can benefit from

"greater sensitivity, dynamic range and more efficient unbiased genetic mapping compared to the previous microarray-based methods and may be an efficient new approach to a wide array of problems"

Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms

They are able to do this thanks to analyzing single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP). These SNPs are the changes in the nucleotide basis (A,T,C and G) and the human body is believed to contain millions of SNPs. New high throuput technologies can now analyze hundreds of thousands of SNPs, which should allow the scientist greater understanding of genetic differences that cause diseases.In this way, scientists can identify who is at risk and also get closer to cracking the genetic code of the disease.

Similarly, scientists can measure mRNA in order to determine which genes are being activated within certain cells. This profiling can help to provide a genetic marker towards codifying diseases or who is at risk of catching a defined disease.


Beutler, Dr "Possible Genetic Mechanism for Chronic Pain Identified", Medscape Neurology, 2010

RNA Journal www.rnajournal.cshlp.org