Research on gene expression (GE) provides insights into the physiology of a cell or group of cells at a given point in time. Studies of changes in GE can be used to identify patients at higher risk for various medical conditions, a higher symptom burden, and/or the adverse consequences associated with various treatments. The aims of this article are as follows: (1) to describe the different types of RNA transcripts, (2) to describe the processes involved in GE (i.e., RNA transcription, epigenetics, and posttranscriptional modifications), (3) to describe common sources of variation in GE, (4) to describe the most common methods used to measure GE, and (5) to discuss factors to consider when choosing tissue for a GE study. This article begins with an overview of the mechanisms involved in GE. Then, the factors that can influence the findings from GE experiments (e.g., tissue specificity, host age, host gender, and time of sample collection) are described and potential solutions are presented. This article concludes with a discussion of how the types of tissue used in GE studies can affect study findings. Given that the costs associated with the measurement of changes in GE are decreasing and the methods to analyze GE data are becoming easier to use, nurse scientists need to understand the basic principles that underlie any GE study.
- gene expression
- quantitative polymerase chain reaction
- ribonucleic acid sequencing
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Research and Theory