Quantitative PCR (qPCR) is a workhorse laboratory technique for measuring the concentration of a target DNA sequence with high accuracy over a wide dynamic range. The gold standard method for estimating DNA concentrations via qPCR is quantification cycle () standard curve quantification, which requires the time- and labor-intensive construction of a standard curve. In theory, the shape of a qPCR data curve can be used to directly quantify DNA concentration by fitting a model to data; however, current empirical model-based quantification methods are not as reliable as standard curve quantification.
We have developed a two-parameter mass action kinetic model of PCR (MAK2) that can be fitted to qPCR data in order to quantify target concentration from a single qPCR assay. To compare the accuracy of MAK2-fitting to other qPCR quantification methods, we have applied quantification methods to qPCR dilution series data generated in three independent laboratories using different target sequences. Quantification accuracy was assessed by analyzing the reliability of concentration predictions for targets at known concentrations. Our results indicate that quantification by MAK2-fitting is as reliable as standard curve quantification for a variety of DNA targets and a wide range of concentrations.
We anticipate that MAK2 quantification will have a profound effect on the way qPCR experiments are designed and analyzed. In particular, MAK2 enables accurate quantification of portable qPCR assays with limited sample throughput, where construction of a standard curve is impractical.
The XML-based Real-Time PCR Data Markup Language (RDML) has been developed by the RDML consortium (http://www.rdml.org) to enable straightforward exchange of qPCR data and related information between qPCR instruments and third party data analysis software, between colleagues and collaborators and between experimenters and journals or public repositories. We here also propose data related guidelines as a subset of the Minimum Information for Publication of Quantitative Real-Time PCR Experiments (MIQE) to guarantee inclusion of key data information when reporting experimental results.
Real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) is a method for rapid and reliable quantification of mRNA transcription. Internal standards such as reference genes are used to normalise mRNA levels between different samples for an exact comparison of mRNA transcription level. Selection of high quality reference genes is of crucial importance for the interpretation of data generated by real-time qPCR.
In this study nine commonly used reference genes were investigated in 17 different pig tissues using real-time qPCR with SYBR green. The genes included beta-actin (ACTB), beta-2-microglobulin (B2M), glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), hydroxymethylbilane synthase (HMBS), hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase 1 (HPRT1), ribosomal protein L4 (RPL4), succinate dehydrogenase complex subunit A (SDHA), TATA box binding protein (TPB)and tyrosine 3-monooxygenase/tryptophan 5-monooxygenase activation protein zeta polypeptide (YWHAZ). The stability of these reference genes in different pig tissues was investigated using the geNorm application. The range of expression stability in the genes analysed was (from the most stable to the least stable): ACTB/RPL4, TBP, HPRT, HMBS, YWHAZ, SDHA, B2M and GAPDH.
Expression stability varies greatly between genes. ACTB, RPL4, TPB and HPRT1 were found to have the highest stability across tissues. Based on both expression stability and expression level, our data suggest that ACTB and RPL4 are good reference genes for high abundant transcripts while TPB and HPRT1 are good reference genes for low abundant transcripts in expression studies across different pig tissues.
Quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) is a commonly used validation tool for confirming gene expression results obtained from microarray analysis; however, microarray and qPCR data often result in disagreement. The current study assesses factors contributing to the correlation between these methods in five separate experiments employing two-color 60-mer oligonucleotide microarrays and qPCR using SYBR green. Overall, significant correlation was observed between microarray and qPCR results (ρ=0.708, p<0.0001, n=277) using these platforms. The contribution of factors including up- vs. down-regulation, spot intensity, ρ-value, fold-change, cycle threshold (Ct), array averaging, tissue type, and tissue preparation was assessed. Filtering of microarray data for measures of quality (fold-change and ρ-value) proves to be the most critical factor, with significant correlations of ρ>0.80 consistently observed when quality scores are applied.
Polymerase Chain Reaction; Microarray Analysis; Gene Expression; Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques; Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction; RNA
Motivation: Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) is routinely used for RNA expression profiling, validation of microarray hybridization data and clinical diagnostic assays. Although numerous statistical tools are available in the public domain for the analysis of microarray experiments, this is not the case for qPCR. Proprietary software is typically provided by instrument manufacturers, but these solutions are not amenable to the tandem analysis of multiple assays. This is problematic when an experiment involves more than a simple comparison between a control and treatment sample, or when many qPCR datasets are to be analyzed in a high-throughput facility.
Results: We have developed HTqPCR, a package for the R statistical computing environment, to enable the processing and analysis of qPCR data across multiple conditions and replicates.
Availability: HTqPCR and user documentation can be obtained through Bioconductor or at http://www.ebi.ac.uk/bertone/software.
Robust designs of PCR-based molecular diagnostic assays rely on the discrimination potential of sequence variants affecting primer-to-template annealing. However, for accurate quantitative PCR (qPCR) assessment of gene expression in populations with gene polymorphisms, the effects of sequence variants within primer binding sites must be minimized. This dichotomy in PCR applications prompted us to design experiments to specifically address the quantitative nature of PCR amplifications with oligonucleotides containing mismatches.
We performed qPCR reactions with several primer-target combinations and calculated ratios of molecules obtained with mismatch oligonucleotides to the average obtained with perfect match primer pairs. Amplifications were performed with genomic DNA and complementary DNA samples from different genotypes to validate the findings obtained with plasmid DNA. Our results demonstrate that PCR amplifications are driven by probabilities of oligonucleotides annealing to target sequences. Empiric probabilities can be measured for any primer pair. Alternatively, for primers containing mismatches, probabilities can be measured for individual primers and calculated for primer pairs.
The ability to evaluate priming (and mispriming) rates and to predict their impacts provided a precise and quantitative description of assay performance. Priming probabilities were also found to be a good measure of analytical specificity.
Since its introduction quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) has become the standard method for quantification of gene expression. Its high sensitivity, large dynamic range, and accuracy led to the development of numerous applications with an increasing number of samples to be analyzed. Data analysis consists of a number of steps, which have to be carried out in several different applications. Currently, no single tool is available which incorporates storage, management, and multiple methods covering the complete analysis pipeline.
QPCR is a versatile web-based Java application that allows to store, manage, and analyze data from relative quantification qPCR experiments. It comprises a parser to import generated data from qPCR instruments and includes a variety of analysis methods to calculate cycle-threshold and amplification efficiency values. The analysis pipeline includes technical and biological replicate handling, incorporation of sample or gene specific efficiency, normalization using single or multiple reference genes, inter-run calibration, and fold change calculation. Moreover, the application supports assessment of error propagation throughout all analysis steps and allows conducting statistical tests on biological replicates. Results can be visualized in customizable charts and exported for further investigation.
We have developed a web-based system designed to enhance and facilitate the analysis of qPCR experiments. It covers the complete analysis workflow combining parsing, analysis, and generation of charts into one single application. The system is freely available at
Quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) is the gold standard for the quantification of specific nucleic acid sequences. However, a serious concern has been revealed in a recent report: supercoiled plasmid standards cause significant over-estimation in qPCR quantification. In this study, we investigated the effect of plasmid DNA conformation on the quantification of DNA and the efficiency of qPCR. Our results suggest that plasmid DNA conformation has significant impact on the accuracy of absolute quantification by qPCR. DNA standard curves shifted significantly among plasmid standards with different DNA conformations. Moreover, the choice of DNA measurement method and plasmid DNA conformation may also contribute to the measurement error of DNA standard curves. Due to the multiple effects of plasmid DNA conformation on the accuracy of qPCR, efforts should be made to assure the highest consistency of plasmid standards for qPCR. Thus, we suggest that the conformation, preparation, quantification, purification, handling, and storage of standard plasmid DNA should be described and defined in the Minimum Information for Publication of Quantitative Real-Time PCR Experiments (MIQE) to assure the reproducibility and accuracy of qPCR absolute quantification.
The availability of diverse RT-qPCR assay formats and technologies hinder comparability of data between platforms. Reference standards to facilitate platform evaluation and comparability are needed. We have explored using universal RNA standards for comparing the performance of a novel qPCR platform (Fluidigm® BioMark™) against the widely used ABI 7900HT system. Our results show that such standards may form part of a toolkit to evaluate the key performance characteristics of platforms.
Real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) is a powerful tool for quantifying specific DNA target sequences. Although determination of relative quantity is widely accepted as a reliable means of measuring differences between samples, there are advantages to being able to determine the absolute copy numbers of a given target. One approach to absolute quantification relies on construction of an accurate standard curve using appropriate external standards of known concentration. We have validated the use of tissue genomic DNA as a universal external standard to facilitate quantification of any target sequence contained in the genome of a given species, addressing several key technical issues regarding its use. This approach was applied to validate mRNA expression of gene candidates identified from microarray data and to determine gene copies in transgenic mice. A simple method that can assist achieving absolute quantification of gene expression would broadly enhance the uses of real-time qPCR and in particular, augment the evaluation of global gene expression studies.
Real-time quantitative RT-PCR (RT-qPCR) is a "gold" standard for measuring steady state mRNA levels in RNA interference assays. The knockdown of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene with eight individual EGFR small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) was estimated by RT-qPCR using three different RT-qPCR primer sets.
Our results indicate that accurate measurement of siRNA efficacy by RT-qPCR requires careful attention for the selection of the primers used to amplify the target EGFR mRNA.
We conclude that when assessing siRNA efficacy with RT-qPCR, more than one primer set targeting different regions of the mRNA should be evaluated and at least one of these primer sets should amplify a region encompassing the siRNA recognition sequence.
Gene expression profiling is an important approach for detecting diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers, and predicting drug safety. The development of a wide range of technologies and platforms for measuring mRNA expression makes the evaluation and standardization of transcriptomic data problematic due to differences in protocols, data processing and analysis methods. Thus, universal RNA standards, such as those developed by the External RNA Controls Consortium (ERCC), are proposed to aid validation of research findings from diverse platforms such as microarrays and RT-qPCR, and play a role in quality control (QC) processes as transcriptomic profiling becomes more commonplace in the clinical setting.
Panels of ERCC RNA standards were constructed in order to test the utility of these reference materials (RMs) for performance characterization of two selected gene expression platforms, and for discrimination of biomarker profiles between groups. The linear range, limits of detection and reproducibility of microarray and RT-qPCR measurements were evaluated using panels of RNA standards. Transcripts of low abundance (≤ 10 copies/ng total RNA) showed more than double the technical variability compared to higher copy number transcripts on both platforms. Microarray profiling of two simulated 'normal' and 'disease' panels, each consisting of eight different RNA standards, yielded robust discrimination between the panels and between standards with varying fold change ratios, showing no systematic effects due to different labelling and hybridization runs. Also, comparison of microarray and RT-qPCR data for fold changes showed agreement for the two platforms.
ERCC RNA standards provide a generic means of evaluating different aspects of platform performance, and can provide information on the technical variation associated with quantification of biomarkers expressed at different levels of physiological abundance. Distinct panels of standards serve as an ideal quality control tool kit for determining the accuracy of fold change cut-off threshold and the impact of experimentally-derived noise on the discrimination of normal and disease profiles.
Reverse transcription quantitative real-time PCR (RT-qPCR) is a key method for measurement of relative gene expression. Analysis of RT-qPCR data requires many iterative computations for data normalization and analytical optimization. Currently no computer program for RT-qPCR data analysis is suitable for analytical optimization and user-controllable customization based on data quality, experimental design as well as specific research aims. Here I introduce an all-in-one computer program, SASqPCR, for robust and rapid analysis of RT-qPCR data in SAS. This program has multiple macros for assessment of PCR efficiencies, validation of reference genes, optimization of data normalizers, normalization of confounding variations across samples, and statistical comparison of target gene expression in parallel samples. Users can simply change the macro variables to test various analytical strategies, optimize results and customize the analytical processes. In addition, it is highly automatic and functionally extendable. Thus users are the actual decision-makers controlling RT-qPCR data analyses. SASqPCR and its tutorial are freely available at http://code.google.com/p/sasqpcr/downloads/list.
With the advent of molecular biological techniques, especially next-generation sequencing and metagenomics, the number of microbial biogeography studies is rapidly increasing. However, these studies involve the synthesis of data generated by different laboratories using different protocols, chemicals, etc., all with inherent biases. The aim of this study was to assess inter- as well as intralaboratory variations in microbial community composition when standardized protocols are applied to a single soil sample. Aliquots from a homogenized soil sample from a rice field in Italy were sent to five participating laboratories. DNA was extracted by two investigators per laboratory using an identical protocol. All DNA samples were sent to one laboratory to perform DNA quantification, quantitative PCR (QPCR), and microarray and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analyses of methanotrophic communities. Yields, as well as purity of DNA, were significantly different between laboratories but in some cases also between investigators within the same laboratory. The differences in yield and quality of the extracted DNA were reflected in QPCR, microarray, and DGGE analysis results. Diversity indices (Shannon-Wiener, evenness, and richness) differed significantly between laboratories. The observed differences have implications for every project in which microbial communities are compared in different habitats, even if assessed within the same laboratory. To be able to make sensible comparisons leading to valid conclusions, intralaboratory variation should be assessed. Standardization of DNA extraction protocols and possible use of internal standards in interlaboratory comparisons may help in rendering a “quantifiable” bias.
Real-time reverse transcriptase quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) is a widely used technique for measuring transcript levels. Priming strategy and reverse transcriptase enzyme are key elements that affect sensitivity and variability of RT-qPCR and microarray results. Previously, the Nucleic Acid Research Group (NARG) had conducted preliminary studies within the group to examine the effects of priming strategy on generating cDNA for use with qPCR. This year's study was an open study in which the qPCR community was invited to participate. Participants received the RT primers and RNA template and were asked to perform the RT reaction using their preferred reaction conditions. Each participating laboratory was provided at least two RNA templates of varying quality. The RT products were returned to the NARG and all RT reactions were used in a qPCR reaction. The qPCR assays looked at three genes of varying abundance, b-actin (high copy), b-glucuronidase (medium copy) and TATA binding protein (low copy) as well as varying distance from the 3? end for each transcript. Results from participating laboratories will be evaluated to determine the impact of priming strategy, assay chemistry and experimental setup on the RT step. Additionally, we will address the impact of RNA integrity on cDNA synthesis.
Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR) is a collection of methods for estimating the number of copies of a specific DNA template in a sample, but one that is not universally accepted because it can lead to highly inaccurate (albeit precise) results. The fundamental problem is that qPCR methods use mathematical models that explicitly or implicitly apply an estimate of amplification efficiency, the error of which is compounded in the analysis to unacceptable levels.
We present a new method of qPCR analysis that is efficiency-independent and yields accurate and precise results in controlled experiments. The method depends on a computer-assisted deconvolution that finds the point of concordant amplification behavior between the "unknown" template and an admixed amplicon standard. We apply the method to demonstrate dexamethasone-induced changes in gene expression in lymphoblastic leukemia cell lines.
This method of qPCR analysis does not use any explicit or implicit measure of efficiency, and may therefore be immune to problems inherent in other qPCR approaches. It yields an estimate of absolute initial copy number of template, and controlled tests show it generates accurate results.
Quantitative PCR (qPCR) has recently been used to quantify microorganisms in complex communities, including dental plaque biofilms. However, there is variability in the qPCR protocols being used. This study was designed to evaluate the validity of two of these variables with the intent of developing a more standardized qPCR protocol. The two variables evaluated were (1) the use of DNA content versus actual cell counts to estimate bacterial numbers in mixed plaque samples and (2) the effectiveness of three different universal primers versus species specific primers in amplifying specific target pathogens in these samples. Results lead to the development of a standardized protocol that was shown to be highly reproducible as demonstrated by low coefficients of variation. The results also confirmed that this standardized qPCR protocol can be used as a sensitive method for quantifying specific bacterial species in human plaque samples.
qPCR; oral bacteria; biofilms
This unit presents a specific and sensitive quantitative reverse-transcription PCR (RT-qPCR) method for measuring individual microRNAs (miRNAs) in tissue or cultured cells. MiRNAs are 17 – 24 nucleotides (nt) in length. Standard and quantitative PCR methods require a template that is at least twice the length of either of the specific forward or reverse primers, each typically ∼ 20 nt in length. Thus, the target minimum length is ≥ 40 nt, making miRNAs too short for standard RT-qPCR methods. In this assay, each of the RT-qPCR nucleic acid reagents, including the RT-primer, the forward and reverse PCR primers, and the hydrolysis probe, contain design features that, together, optimize miRNA specificity and assay sensitivity. The RT-primer contains a highly stable stem-loop structure that lengthens the target cDNA. The forward PCR primer adds additional length with nucleotides that optimize its melting temperature (Tm) and enhance assay specificity. The reverse primer disrupts the stem loop. Assay specificity is further optimized by placement of the probe over much of the original miRNA sequence, and the probe Tm is optimized by addition of a minor groove binding (MGB) moiety.
miRNA; MIQE; RT-qPCR
Pathway-targeted or low-density arrays are used more and more frequently in biomedical research, particularly those arrays that are based on quantitative real-time PCR. Typical QPCR arrays contain 96-1024 primer pairs or probes, and they bring with it the promise of being able to reliably measure differences in target levels without the need to establish absolute standard curves for each and every target. To achieve reliable quantification all primer pairs or array probes must perform with the same efficiency.
Our results indicate that QPCR primer-pairs differ significantly both in reliability and efficiency. They can only be used in an array format if the raw data (so called CT values for real-time QPCR) are transformed to take these differences into account. We developed a novel method to obtain efficiency-adjusted CT values. We introduce transformed confidence intervals as a novel measure to identify unreliable primers. We introduce a robust clustering algorithm to combine efficiencies of groups of probes, and our results indicate that using n < 10 cluster-based mean efficiencies is comparable to using individually determined efficiency adjustments for each primer pair (N = 96-1024).
Careful estimation of primer efficiency is necessary to avoid significant measurement inaccuracies. Transformed confidence intervals are a novel method to assess and interprete the reliability of an efficiency estimate in a high throughput format. Efficiency clustering as developed here serves as a compromise between the imprecision in assuming uniform efficiency, and the computational complexity and danger of over-fitting when using individually determined efficiencies.
There is no gold standard for diagnosing leishmaniases. Our aim was to assess the operative validity of tests used in detecting Leishmania infection using samples from experimental infections, a reliable equivalent to the classic definition of gold standard. Without statistical differences, the highest sensitivity was achieved by protein A (ProtA), immunoglobulin (Ig)G2, indirect fluorescenece antibody test (IFAT), lymphocyte proliferation assay, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction of bone marrow (qPCR-BM), qPCR-Blood, and IgG; and the highest specificity by IgG1, IgM, IgA, qPCR-Blood, IgG, IgG2, and qPCR-BM. Maximum positive predictive value was obtained simultaneously by IgG2, qPCR-Blood, and IgG; and maximum negative predictive value by qPCR-BM. Best positive and negative likelihood ratios were obtained by IgG2. The test having the greatest, statistically significant, area under the receiver operating characteristics curve was IgG2 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Thus, according to the gold standard used, IFAT and qPCR are far from fulfilling the requirements to be considered gold standards, and the test showing the highest potential to detect Leishmania infection is Leishmania-specific ELISA IgG2.
Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) has been previously applied to estimate transgene copy number in transgenic plants. However, the results can be erroneous owing to inaccurate estimation of PCR efficiency. Here, a novel qPCR approach, named standard addition qPCR (SAQPCR), was devised to accurately determine transgene copy number without the necessity of obtaining PCR efficiency data. The procedures and the mathematical basis for the approach are described. A recombinant plasmid harboring both the internal reference gene and the integrated target gene was constructed to serve as the standard DNA. It was found that addition of suitable amounts of standard DNA to test samples did not affect PCR efficiency, and the guidance for selection of suitable cycle numbers for analysis was established. Samples from six individual T0 tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) plants were analyzed by SAQPCR, and the results confirmed by Southern blot analysis. The approach produced accurate results and required only small amounts of plant tissue. It can be generally applied to analysis of different plants and transgenes. In addition, it can also be applied to zygosity analysis.
While improvements in genotyping technology have allowed for increased throughput and reduced time and expense, protocols remain hindered by the slow upstream steps of isolating, purifying, and normalizing DNA. Various methods exist for genotyping samples directly through blood, without having to purify the DNA first. These procedures were designed to be used on smaller throughput systems, however, and have not yet been tested for use on current high-throughput real-time (q)PCR based genotyping platforms. In this paper, a method of quantitative qPCR-based genotyping on blood without DNA purification was developed using a high-throughput qPCR platform.
The performances of either DNA purified from blood or the same blood samples without DNA purification were evaluated through qPCR-based genotyping. First, 60 different mutations prevalent in the Ashkenazi Jewish population were genotyped in 12 Ashkenazi Jewish individuals using the QuantStudio™12K Flex Real-Time PCR System. Genotyping directly from blood gave a call rate of 99.21%, and an accuracy of 100%, while the purified DNA gave a call rate of 92.49%, and an accuracy of 99.74%. Although no statistical difference was found for these parameters, an F test comparing the standard deviations of the wild type clusters for the two different methods indicated significantly less variation when genotyping directly from blood instead of after DNA purification. To further establish the ability to perform high-throughput qPCR based genotyping directly from blood, 96 individuals of Ashkenazi Jewish decent were genotyped for the same 60 mutations (5,760 genotypes in 5 hours) and resulted in a call rate of 98.38% and a diagnostic accuracy of 99.77%.
This study shows that accurate qPCR-based high-throughput genotyping can be performed without DNA purification. The direct use of blood may further expedite the entire genotyping process, reduce costs, and avoid tracking errors which can occur during sample DNA purification.
High-throughput; Genotyping; Blood; Sample-to-SNP; QuantStudio
The vast majority of genes in humans and other organisms undergo alternative splicing, yet the biological function of splice variants is still very poorly understood in large part because of the lack of simple tools that can map the expression profiles and patterns of these variants with high sensitivity. High-throughput quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) is an ideal technique to accurately quantify nucleic acid sequences including splice variants. However, currently available primer design programs do not distinguish between splice variants and also differ substantially in overall quality, functionality or throughput mode. Here, we present GETPrime, a primer database supported by a novel platform that uniquely combines and automates several features critical for optimal qPCR primer design. These include the consideration of all gene splice variants to enable either gene-specific (covering the majority of splice variants) or transcript-specific (covering one splice variant) expression profiling, primer specificity validation, automated best primer pair selection according to strict criteria and graphical visualization of the latter primer pairs within their genomic context. GETPrime primers have been extensively validated experimentally, demonstrating high transcript specificity in complex samples. Thus, the free-access, user-friendly GETPrime database allows fast primer retrieval and visualization for genes or groups of genes of most common model organisms, and is available at http://updepla1srv1.epfl.ch/getprime/.
Database URL: http://deplanckelab.epfl.ch.
Despite the central role of quantitative PCR (qPCR) in the quantification of mRNA transcripts, most analyses of qPCR data are still delegated to the software that comes with the qPCR apparatus. This is especially true for the handling of the fluorescence baseline. This article shows that baseline estimation errors are directly reflected in the observed PCR efficiency values and are thus propagated exponentially in the estimated starting concentrations as well as ‘fold-difference’ results. Because of the unknown origin and kinetics of the baseline fluorescence, the fluorescence values monitored in the initial cycles of the PCR reaction cannot be used to estimate a useful baseline value. An algorithm that estimates the baseline by reconstructing the log-linear phase downward from the early plateau phase of the PCR reaction was developed and shown to lead to very reproducible PCR efficiency values. PCR efficiency values were determined per sample by fitting a regression line to a subset of data points in the log-linear phase. The variability, as well as the bias, in qPCR results was significantly reduced when the mean of these PCR efficiencies per amplicon was used in the calculation of an estimate of the starting concentration per sample.
Reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) is the gold standard technique for mRNA quantification, but appropriate normalization is required to obtain reliable data. Normalization to accurately quantitated RNA has been proposed as the most reliable method for in vivo biopsies. However, this approach does not correct differences in RNA integrity.
In this study, we evaluated the effect of RNA degradation on the quantification of the relative expression of nine genes (18S, ACTB, ATUB, B2M, GAPDH, HPRT, POLR2L, PSMB6 and RPLP0) that cover a wide expression spectrum. Our results show that RNA degradation could introduce up to 100% error in gene expression measurements when RT-qPCR data were normalized to total RNA. To achieve greater resolution of small differences in transcript levels in degraded samples, we improved this normalization method by developing a corrective algorithm that compensates for the loss of RNA integrity. This approach allowed us to achieve higher accuracy, since the average error for quantitative measurements was reduced to 8%. Finally, we applied our normalization strategy to the quantification of EGFR, HER2 and HER3 in 104 rectal cancer biopsies. Taken together, our data show that normalization of gene expression measurements by taking into account also RNA degradation allows much more reliable sample comparison.
We developed a new normalization method of RT-qPCR data that compensates for loss of RNA integrity and therefore allows accurate gene expression quantification in human biopsies.