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DNA Sequencing

updated: August 9, 2022


DNA sequencing refers to the general laboratory technique for determining the exact sequence of nucleotides, or bases, in a DNA molecule. The sequence of the bases (often referred to by the first letters of their chemical names: A, T, C, and G) encodes the biological information that cells use to develop and operate. Establishing the sequence of DNA is key to understanding the function of genes and other parts of the genome. There are now several different methods available for DNA sequencing, each with its own characteristics, and the development of additional methods represents an active area of genomics research.



DNA consists of a linear string of nucleotides, or bases, for simplicity, referred to by the first letters of their chemical names--A, T, C and G. The process of deducing the order of nucleotides in DNA is called DNA sequencing. Since the DNA sequence confers information that the cell uses to make RNA molecules and proteins, establishing the sequence of DNA is key for understanding how genomes work. The technology for DNA sequencing was made faster and less expensive as a part of the Human Genome Project. And recent developments have profoundly increased the efficiency of DNA sequencing even further.

Eric Green
Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.


National Human Genome Research Institute