Hybridization is the process of combining two complementary single-stranded DNA or RNA molecules and allowing them to form a single double-stranded molecule through base pairing. In a reversal of this process, a double-stranded DNA (or RNA, or DNA/RNA) molecule can be heated to break the base pairing and separate the two strands. Hybridization is a part of many important laboratory techniques such as polymerase chain reaction and Southern blotting.
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DNA is usually found in the form of a double-stranded molecule. These two strands bind to one another in a complementary fashion by a process called hybridization. DNA naturally, when it is replicated, the new strand hybridizes to the old strand. In the laboratory we can take advantage of hybridization by generating nucleic acid probes which we can use to screen for the presence or absence of certain DNA molecules or RNA molecules in the cell.
Lawrence C. Brody, Ph.D.
Chief & Senior Investigator, Genome Technology Branch; Head, Molecular Pathogenesis Section
Dr. Brody investigates the genetics of breast cancer and neural tube defects. As chief of the NHGRI Genome Technology Branch's Molecular Pathogenesis section, he is interested in studying genetic mutations that lead to perturbations in normal metabolic pathways and cause disorders such as cancer and birth defects. His laboratory investigates mutations in two breast cancer-linked genes, breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2). Dr. Brody's laboratory was among the first to report that women carrying BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations have a higher risk of developing both breast and ovarian cancer than women without such mutations.