Laser microdissection is a microscope-based method to isolate one, or many, cells of interest from a tissue section. Two independent technical solutions were developed in 1996-1997 (Emmert-Buck et al., 1996; Bohm et al., 1997). Just before that, in 1995, microarrays had been developed (Lipshutz et al., 1995; Schena et al., 1995). The timing was fortuitous, as laser microdissection provided a means of making microarray analysis specific in complex tissues, and microarray analyses early became a major application for laser microdissection. The list of laser-microdissection applications has grown since then, and it now encompasses transcriptomics (Luo et al., 1999), genomics (Rook et al., 2004), and proteomics (Ornstein et al., 2000; Ahram et al., 2002). This review focuses on the application of laser microdissection in transcriptomics. There are a variety of methods to profile the expression of genes in cells. Among the techniques that globally measure gene expression, microarrays are predominant. Microarrays have technical properties that need to be considered in conjunction with the RNA amplification and labeling systems used to generate a labeled hybridization target. We will thus focus on microarray-based transcriptomics as combined with laser microdissection.

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