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1.  High-throughput identification of reference genes for research and clinical RT-qPCR analysis of breast cancer samples 
Quantification and normalization of RT-qPCR data critically depends on the expression of so called reference genes. Our goal was to develop a strategy for the selection of reference genes that utilizes microarray data analysis and combines known approaches for gene stability evaluation and to select a set of appropriate reference genes for research and clinical analysis of breast samples with different receptor and cancer status using this strategy.
A preliminary search of reference genes was based on high-throughput analysis of microarray datasets. The final selection and validation of the candidate genes were based on the RT-qPCR data analysis using several known methods for expression stability evaluation: comparative ∆Ct method, geNorm, NormFinder and Haller equivalence test.
A set of five reference genes was identified: ACTB, RPS23, HUWE1, EEF1A1 and SF3A1. The initial selection was based on the analysis of publically available well-annotated microarray datasets containing different breast cancers and normal breast epithelium from breast cancer patients and epithelium from cancer-free patients. The final selection and validation were performed using RT-qPCR data from 39 breast cancer biopsy samples. Three genes from the final set were identified by the means of microarray analysis and were novel in the context of breast cancer assay. We showed that the selected set of reference genes is more stable in comparison not only with individual genes, but also with a system of reference genes used in commercial OncotypeDX test.
A selection of reference genes for RT-qPCR can be efficiently performed by combining a preliminary search based on the high-throughput analysis of microarray datasets and final selection and validation based on the analysis of RT-qPCR data with a simultaneous examination of different expression stability measures. The identified set of reference genes proved to be less variable and thus potentially more efficient for research and clinical analysis of breast samples comparing to individual genes and the set of reference genes used in OncotypeDX assay.
PMCID: PMC3726509  PMID: 23876162
Reference genes; Microarrays; Reverse transcription quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR); Gene expression; Breast cancer
2.  Identification of valid reference genes for gene expression studies of human stomach cancer by reverse transcription-qPCR 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:240.
Reverse transcription quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) is a powerful method for the analysis of gene expression. Target gene expression levels are usually normalized to a consistently expressed reference gene also known as internal standard, in the same sample. However, much effort has not been expended thus far in the search for reference genes suitable for the study of stomach cancer using RT-qPCR, although selection of optimal reference genes is critical for interpretation of results.
We assessed the suitability of six possible reference genes, beta-actin (ACTB), glyceraldehydes-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), hypoxanthine phosphoribosyl transferase 1 (HPRT1), beta-2-microglobulin (B2M), ribosomal subunit L29 (RPL29) and 18S ribosomal RNA (18S rRNA) in 20 normal and tumor stomach tissue pairs of stomach cancer patients and 6 stomach cancer cell lines, by RT-qPCR. Employing expression stability analyses using NormFinder and geNorm algorithms we determined the order of performance of these reference genes and their variation values.
This RT-qPCR study showed that there are statistically significant (p < 0.05) differences in the expression levels of HPRT1 and 18S rRNA in 'normal-' versus 'tumor stomach tissues'. The stability analyses by geNorm suggest B2M-GAPDH, as best reference gene combination for 'stomach cancer cell lines'; RPL29-HPRT1, for 'all stomach tissues'; and ACTB-18S rRNA, for 'all stomach cell lines and tissues'. NormFinder also identified B2M as the best reference gene for 'stomach cancer cell lines', RPL29-B2M for 'all stomach tissues', and 18S rRNA-ACTB for 'all stomach cell lines and tissues'. The comparisons of normalized expression of the target gene, GPNMB, showed different interpretation of target gene expression depend on best single reference gene or combination.
This study validated RPL29 and RPL29-B2M as the best single reference genes and combination, for RT-qPCR analysis of 'all stomach tissues', and B2M and B2M-GAPDH as the best single reference gene and combination, for 'stomach cancer cell lines'. Use of these validated reference genes should provide more exact interpretation of differential gene expressions at transcription level in stomach cancer.
PMCID: PMC2887403  PMID: 20507635
3.  Identification of suitable reference genes for the relative quantification of microRNAs in pleural effusion 
Oncology Letters  2014;8(4):1889-1895.
Circulating cell-free microRNAs (miRNAs) are potential biomarkers of cancer. Reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) is widely used in miRNA expression studies. The aim of this study was to identify suitable reference genes for RT-qPCR analyses of miRNA expression levels in pleural effusion. The expression levels of candidate reference miRNAs were investigated in 10 benign pleural effusion (BPE) and 10 lung adenocarcinoma-associated malignant pleural effusion (LA-MPE) samples using miRNA microarrays. The expression levels of candidate reference miRNAs, together with those of U6 small nuclear RNA (snRNA), RNU6B, RNU44 and RNU48 small RNAs, in 46 BPE and 45 LA-MPE samples were validated by RT-qPCR, and were analyzed using the NormFinder and BestKeeper algorithms. The impact of different normalization approaches on the detection of differential expression levels of miR-198 in BPE and LA-MPE samples was also assessed. As determined by the miRNA microarray data, five candidate reference miRNAs were identified. Following RT-qPCR validation, U6 snRNA, miR-192, miR-20a, miR-221, miR-222 and miR-16 were evaluated using the NormFinder and BestKeeper software programs. U6 snRNA and miR-192 were identified as single reference genes and the combination of these genes was preferred for the relative quantification of miRNA expression levels in pleural effusion. Normalization of miR-98 expression levels to those of U6 snRNA, miR-192 or a combination of these genes enabled the detection of a significant difference between BPE and LA-MPE samples. Therefore, U6 snRNA and miR-192 are recommended as reference genes for the relative quantification of miRNA expression levels in pleural effusion.
PMCID: PMC4156210  PMID: 25202432
microRNAs; pleural effusion; reference
4.  Identification of Importin 8 (IPO8) as the most accurate reference gene for the clinicopathological analysis of lung specimens 
BMC Molecular Biology  2008;9:103.
The accurate normalization of differentially expressed genes in lung cancer is essential for the identification of novel therapeutic targets and biomarkers by real time RT-PCR and microarrays. Although classical "housekeeping" genes, such as GAPDH, HPRT1, and beta-actin have been widely used in the past, their accuracy as reference genes for lung tissues has not been proven.
We have conducted a thorough analysis of a panel of 16 candidate reference genes for lung specimens and lung cell lines. Gene expression was measured by quantitative real time RT-PCR and expression stability was analyzed with the softwares GeNorm and NormFinder, mean of |ΔCt| (= |Ct Normal-Ct tumor|) ± SEM, and correlation coefficients among genes. Systematic comparison between candidates led us to the identification of a subset of suitable reference genes for clinical samples: IPO8, ACTB, POLR2A, 18S, and PPIA. Further analysis showed that IPO8 had a very low mean of |ΔCt| (0.70 ± 0.09), with no statistically significant differences between normal and malignant samples and with excellent expression stability.
Our data show that IPO8 is the most accurate reference gene for clinical lung specimens. In addition, we demonstrate that the commonly used genes GAPDH and HPRT1 are inappropriate to normalize data derived from lung biopsies, although they are suitable as reference genes for lung cell lines. We thus propose IPO8 as a novel reference gene for lung cancer samples.
PMCID: PMC2612021  PMID: 19014639
5.  Nuclear Receptor Expression Defines a Set of Prognostic Biomarkers for Lung Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(12):e1000378.
David Mangelsdorf and colleagues show that nuclear receptor expression is strongly associated with clinical outcomes of lung cancer patients, and this expression profile is a potential prognostic signature for lung cancer patient survival time, particularly for individuals with early stage disease.
The identification of prognostic tumor biomarkers that also would have potential as therapeutic targets, particularly in patients with early stage disease, has been a long sought-after goal in the management and treatment of lung cancer. The nuclear receptor (NR) superfamily, which is composed of 48 transcription factors that govern complex physiologic and pathophysiologic processes, could represent a unique subset of these biomarkers. In fact, many members of this family are the targets of already identified selective receptor modulators, providing a direct link between individual tumor NR quantitation and selection of therapy. The goal of this study, which begins this overall strategy, was to investigate the association between mRNA expression of the NR superfamily and the clinical outcome for patients with lung cancer, and to test whether a tumor NR gene signature provided useful information (over available clinical data) for patients with lung cancer.
Methods and Findings
Using quantitative real-time PCR to study NR expression in 30 microdissected non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) and their pair-matched normal lung epithelium, we found great variability in NR expression among patients' tumor and non-involved lung epithelium, found a strong association between NR expression and clinical outcome, and identified an NR gene signature from both normal and tumor tissues that predicted patient survival time and disease recurrence. The NR signature derived from the initial 30 NSCLC samples was validated in two independent microarray datasets derived from 442 and 117 resected lung adenocarcinomas. The NR gene signature was also validated in 130 squamous cell carcinomas. The prognostic signature in tumors could be distilled to expression of two NRs, short heterodimer partner and progesterone receptor, as single gene predictors of NSCLC patient survival time, including for patients with stage I disease. Of equal interest, the studies of microdissected histologically normal epithelium and matched tumors identified expression in normal (but not tumor) epithelium of NGFIB3 and mineralocorticoid receptor as single gene predictors of good prognosis.
NR expression is strongly associated with clinical outcomes for patients with lung cancer, and this expression profile provides a unique prognostic signature for lung cancer patient survival time, particularly for those with early stage disease. This study highlights the potential use of NRs as a rational set of therapeutically tractable genes as theragnostic biomarkers, and specifically identifies short heterodimer partner and progesterone receptor in tumors, and NGFIB3 and MR in non-neoplastic lung epithelium, for future detailed translational study in lung cancer.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Lung cancer, the most common cause of cancer-related death, kills 1.3 million people annually. Most lung cancers are “non-small-cell lung cancers” (NSCLCs), and most are caused by smoking. Exposure to chemicals in smoke causes changes in the genes of the cells lining the lungs that allow the cells to grow uncontrollably and to move around the body. How NSCLC is treated and responds to treatment depends on its “stage.” Stage I tumors, which are small and confined to the lung, are removed surgically, although chemotherapy is also sometimes given. Stage II tumors have spread to nearby lymph nodes and are treated with surgery and chemotherapy, as are some stage III tumors. However, because cancer cells in stage III tumors can be present throughout the chest, surgery is not always possible. For such cases, and for stage IV NSCLC, where the tumor has spread around the body, patients are treated with chemotherapy alone. About 70% of patients with stage I and II NSCLC but only 2% of patients with stage IV NSCLC survive for five years after diagnosis; more than 50% of patients have stage IV NSCLC at diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
Patient responses to treatment vary considerably. Oncologists (doctors who treat cancer) would like to know which patients have a good prognosis (are likely to do well) to help them individualize their treatment. Consequently, the search is on for “prognostic tumor biomarkers,” molecules made by cancer cells that can be used to predict likely clinical outcomes. Such biomarkers, which may also be potential therapeutic targets, can be identified by analyzing the overall pattern of gene expression in a panel of tumors using a technique called microarray analysis and looking for associations between the expression of sets of genes and clinical outcomes. In this study, the researchers take a more directed approach to identifying prognostic biomarkers by investigating the association between the expression of the genes encoding nuclear receptors (NRs) and clinical outcome in patients with lung cancer. The NR superfamily contains 48 transcription factors (proteins that control the expression of other genes) that respond to several hormones and to diet-derived fats. NRs control many biological processes and are targets for several successful drugs, including some used to treat cancer.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed the expression of NR mRNAs using “quantitative real-time PCR” in 30 microdissected NSCLCs and in matched normal lung tissue samples (mRNA is the blueprint for protein production). They then used an approach called standard classification and regression tree analysis to build a prognostic model for NSCLC based on the expression data. This model predicted both survival time and disease recurrence among the patients from whom the tumors had been taken. The researchers validated their prognostic model in two large independent lung adenocarcinoma microarray datasets and in a squamous cell carcinoma dataset (adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas are two major NSCLC subtypes). Finally, they explored the roles of specific NRs in the prediction model. This analysis revealed that the ability of the NR signature in tumors to predict outcomes was mainly due to the expression of two NRs—the short heterodimer partner (SHP) and the progesterone receptor (PR). Expression of either gene could be used as a single gene predictor of the survival time of patients, including those with stage I disease. Similarly, the expression of either nerve growth factor induced gene B3 (NGFIB3) or mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) in normal tissue was a single gene predictor of a good prognosis.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the expression of NR mRNA is strongly associated with clinical outcomes in patients with NSCLC. Furthermore, they identify a prognostic NR expression signature that provides information on the survival time of patients, including those with early stage disease. The signature needs to be confirmed in more patients before it can be used clinically, and researchers would like to establish whether changes in mRNA expression are reflected in changes in protein expression if NRs are to be targeted therapeutically. Nevertheless, these findings highlight the potential use of NRs as prognostic tumor biomarkers. Furthermore, they identify SHP and PR in tumors and two NRs in normal lung tissue as molecules that might provide new targets for the treatment of lung cancer and new insights into the early diagnosis, pathogenesis, and chemoprevention of lung cancer.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The Nuclear Receptor Signaling Atlas (NURSA) is consortium of scientists sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health that provides scientific reagents, datasets, and educational material on nuclear receptors and their co-regulators to the scientific community through a Web-based portal
The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) provides information and resources to anyone interested in the prevention and treatment of lung and other cancers
The US National Cancer Institute provides detailed information for patients and professionals about all aspects of lung cancer, including information on non-small-cell carcinoma and on tumor markers (in English and Spanish)
Cancer Research UK also provides information about lung cancer and information on how cancer starts
MedlinePlus has links to other resources about lung cancer (in English and Spanish)
Wikipedia has a page on nuclear receptors (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC3001894  PMID: 21179495
6.  Reference miRNAs for miRNAome Analysis of Urothelial Carcinomas 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39309.
Reverse transcription quantitative real-time PCR (RT-qPCR) is widely used in microRNA (miRNA) expression studies on cancer. To compensate for the analytical variability produced by the multiple steps of the method, relative quantification of the measured miRNAs is required, which is based on normalization to endogenous reference genes. No study has been performed so far on reference miRNAs for normalization of miRNA expression in urothelial carcinoma. The aim of this study was to identify suitable reference miRNAs for miRNA expression studies by RT-qPCR in urothelial carcinoma.
Candidate reference miRNAs were selected from 24 urothelial carcinoma and normal bladder tissue samples by miRNA microarrays. The usefulness of these candidate reference miRNAs together with the commonly for normalization purposes used small nuclear RNAs RNU6B, RNU48, and Z30 were thereafter validated by RT-qPCR in 58 tissue samples and analyzed by the algorithms geNorm, NormFinder, and BestKeeper.
Principal Findings
Based on the miRNA microarray data, a total of 16 miRNAs were identified as putative reference genes. After validation by RT-qPCR, miR-101, miR-125a-5p, miR-148b, miR-151-5p, miR-181a, miR-181b, miR-29c, miR-324-3p, miR-424, miR-874, RNU6B, RNU48, and Z30 were used for geNorm, NormFinder, and BestKeeper analyses that gave different combinations of recommended reference genes for normalization.
The present study provided the first systematic analysis for identifying suitable reference miRNAs for miRNA expression studies of urothelial carcinoma by RT-qPCR. Different combinations of reference genes resulted in reliable expression data for both strongly and less strongly altered miRNAs. Notably, RNU6B, which is the most frequently used reference gene for miRNA studies, gave inaccurate normalization. The combination of four (miR-101, miR-125a-5p, miR-148b, and miR-151-5p) or three (miR-148b, miR-181b, and miR-874,) reference miRNAs is recommended for normalization.
PMCID: PMC3380005  PMID: 22745731
7.  Internal control genes for quantitative RT-PCR expression analysis in mouse osteoblasts, osteoclasts and macrophages 
BMC Research Notes  2011;4:410.
Real-time quantitative RT-PCR (qPCR) is a powerful technique capable of accurately quantitating mRNA expression levels over a large dynamic range. This makes qPCR the most widely used method for studying quantitative gene expression. An important aspect of qPCR is selecting appropriate controls or normalization factors to account for any differences in starting cDNA quantities between samples during expression studies. Here, we report on the selection of a concise set of housekeeper genes for the accurate normalization of quantitative gene expression data in differentiating osteoblasts, osteoclasts and macrophages. We implemented the use of geNorm, an algorithm that determines the suitability of genes to function as housekeepers by assessing expression stabilities. We evaluated the expression stabilities of 18S, ACTB, B2M, GAPDH, HMBS and HPRT1 genes.
Our analyses revealed that 18S and GAPDH were regulated during osteoblast differentiation and are not suitable for use as reference genes. The most stably expressed genes in osteoblasts were ACTB, HMBS and HPRT1 and their geometric average constitutes a suitable normalization factor upon which gene expression data can be normalized. In macrophages, 18S and GAPDH were the most variable genes while HMBS and B2M were the most stably expressed genes. The geometric average of HMBS and B2M expression levels forms a suitable normalization factor to account for potential differences in starting cDNA quantities during gene expression analysis in macrophages. The expression stabilities of the six candidate reference genes in osteoclasts were, on average, more variable than that observed in macrophages but slightly less variable than those seen in osteoblasts. The two most stably expressed genes in osteoclasts were HMBS and B2M and the genes displaying the greatest levels of variability were 18S and GAPDH. Notably, 18S and GAPDH were the two most variably expressed control genes in all three cell types. The geometric average of HMBS, B2M and ACTB creates an appropriate normalization factor for gene expression studies in osteoclasts.
We have identified concise sets of genes suitable to use as normalization factors for quantitative real-time RT-PCR gene expression studies in osteoblasts, osteoclasts and macrophages.
PMCID: PMC3204251  PMID: 21996334
8.  Evidence Based Selection of Commonly Used RT-qPCR Reference Genes for the Analysis of Mouse Skeletal Muscle 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88653.
The ability to obtain accurate and reproducible data using quantitative real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-qPCR) is limited by the process of data normalization. The use of ‘housekeeping’ or ‘reference’ genes is the most common technique used to normalize RT-qPCR data. However, commonly used reference genes are often poorly validated and may change as a result of genetic background, environment and experimental intervention. Here we present an analysis of 10 reference genes in mouse skeletal muscle (Actb, Aldoa, Gapdh, Hprt1, Ppia, Rer1, Rn18s, Rpl27, Rpl41 and Rpl7L1), which were identified as stable either by microarray or in the literature. Using the MIQE guidelines we compared wild-type (WT) mice across three genetic backgrounds (R129, C57BL/6j and C57BL/10) as well as analyzing the α-actinin-3 knockout (Actn3 KO) mouse, which is a model of the common null polymorphism (R577X) in human ACTN3. Comparing WT mice across three genetic backgrounds, we found that different genes were more tightly regulated in each strain. We have developed a ranked profile of the top performing reference genes in skeletal muscle across these common mouse strains. Interestingly the commonly used reference genes; Gapdh, Rn18s, Hprt1 and Actb were not the most stable. Analysis of our experimental variant (Actn3 KO) also resulted in an altered ranking of reference gene suitability. Furthermore we demonstrate that a poor reference gene results in increased variability in the normalized expression of a gene of interest, and can result in loss of significance. Our data demonstrate that reference genes need to be validated prior to use. For the most accurate normalization, it is important to test several genes and use the geometric mean of at least three of the most stably expressed genes. In the analysis of mouse skeletal muscle, strain and intervention played an important role in selecting the most stable reference genes.
PMCID: PMC3921188  PMID: 24523926
9.  Normalization with genes encoding ribosomal proteins but not GAPDH provides an accurate quantification of gene expressions in neuronal differentiation of PC12 cells 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:75.
Gene regulation at transcript level can provide a good indication of the complex signaling mechanisms underlying physiological and pathological processes. Transcriptomic methods such as microarray and quantitative real-time PCR require stable reference genes for accurate normalization of gene expression. Some but not all studies have shown that housekeeping genes (HGKs), β-actin (ACTB) and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), which are routinely used for normalization, may vary significantly depending on the cell/tissue type and experimental conditions. It is currently unclear if these genes are stably expressed in cells undergoing drastic morphological changes during neuronal differentiation. Recent meta-analysis of microarray datasets showed that some but not all of the ribosomal protein genes are stably expressed. To test the hypothesis that some ribosomal protein genes can serve as reference genes for neuronal differentiation, a genome-wide analysis was performed and putative reference genes were identified based on stability of expressions. The stabilities of these potential reference genes were then analyzed by reverse transcription quantitative real-time PCR in six differentiation conditions.
Twenty stably expressed genes, including thirteen ribosomal protein genes, were selected from microarray analysis of the gene expression profiles of GDNF and NGF induced differentiation of PC12 cells. The expression levels of these candidate genes as well as ACTB and GAPDH were further analyzed by reverse transcription quantitative real-time PCR in PC12 cells differentiated with a variety of stimuli including NGF, GDNF, Forskolin, KCl and ROCK inhibitor, Y27632. The performances of these candidate genes as stable reference genes were evaluated with two independent statistical approaches, geNorm and NormFinder.
The ribosomal protein genes, RPL19 and RPL29, were identified as suitable reference genes during neuronal differentiation of PC12 cells, regardless of the type of differentiation conditions. The combination of these two novel reference genes, but not the commonly used HKG, GAPDH, allows robust and accurate normalization of differentially expressed genes during PC12 differentiation.
PMCID: PMC2831847  PMID: 20113474
10.  Identification of Suitable Reference Genes for Gene Expression Studies of Shoulder Instability 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105002.
Shoulder instability is a common shoulder injury, and patients present with plastic deformation of the glenohumeral capsule. Gene expression analysis may be a useful tool for increasing the general understanding of capsule deformation, and reverse-transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) has become an effective method for such studies. Although RT-qPCR is highly sensitive and specific, it requires the use of suitable reference genes for data normalization to guarantee meaningful and reproducible results. In the present study, we evaluated the suitability of a set of reference genes using samples from the glenohumeral capsules of individuals with and without shoulder instability. We analyzed the expression of six commonly used reference genes (ACTB, B2M, GAPDH, HPRT1, TBP and TFRC) in the antero-inferior, antero-superior and posterior portions of the glenohumeral capsules of cases and controls. The stability of the candidate reference gene expression was determined using four software packages: NormFinder, geNorm, BestKeeper and DataAssist. Overall, HPRT1 was the best single reference gene, and HPRT1 and B2M composed the best pair of reference genes from different analysis groups, including simultaneous analysis of all tissue samples. GenEx software was used to identify the optimal number of reference genes to be used for normalization and demonstrated that the accumulated standard deviation resulting from the use of 2 reference genes was similar to that resulting from the use of 3 or more reference genes. To identify the optimal combination of reference genes, we evaluated the expression of COL1A1. Although the use of different reference gene combinations yielded variable normalized quantities, the relative quantities within sample groups were similar and confirmed that no obvious differences were observed when using 2, 3 or 4 reference genes. Consequently, the use of 2 stable reference genes for normalization, especially HPRT1 and B2M, is a reliable method for evaluating gene expression by RT-qPCR.
PMCID: PMC4133370  PMID: 25122470
11.  Identification of miR-23a as a novel microRNA normalizer for relative quantification in human uterine cervical tissues 
Experimental & Molecular Medicine  2011;43(6):358-366.
Quantitative real-time RT-PCR (RT-qPCR) is being widely used in microRNA expression research. However, few reports detailed a robust identification and validation strategy for suitable reference genes for normalisation in microRNA RT-qPCR studies. The aim of this study was to identify the most stable reference gene(s) for quantification of microRNA expression analysis in uterine cervical tissues. A microarray was performed on 6 pairs of uterine cervical tissues to identify the candidate reference genes. The stability of candidate reference genes was assessed by RT-qPCR in 23 pairs of uterine cervical tissues. The identified most stable reference genes were further validated in other cohort of 108 clinical uterine cervical samples: (HR-HPV- normal, n = 21; HR-HPV+ normal, n = 19; cervical intraepithelial neoplasia [CIN], n = 47; cancer, n = 21), and the effects of normalizers on the relative quantity of target miR-424 were assessed. In the array experiment, miR-26a, miR-23a, miR-200c, let-7a, and miR-1979 were identified as candidate reference genes for subsequent validation. MiR-23a was identified as the most reliable reference gene followed by miR-191. The use of miR-23a and miR-191 to normalize expression data enabled detection of a significant deregulation of miR-424 between normal, CIN and cancer tissue. Our results suggested that miR-23a and miR-191 are the optimal reference microRNAs that can be used for normalization in profiling studies of cervical tissues; miR-23a is a novel microRNA normalizer.
PMCID: PMC3128914  PMID: 21519184
gene expression profiling; microRNAs; real-time polymerase chain reaction; uterine cervical neoplasms
12.  The Use of Laser Microdissection in the Identification of Suitable Reference Genes for Normalization of Quantitative Real-Time PCR in Human FFPE Epithelial Ovarian Tissue Samples 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95974.
Quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) is a powerful and reproducible method of gene expression analysis in which expression levels are quantified by normalization against reference genes. Therefore, to investigate the potential biomarkers and therapeutic targets for epithelial ovarian cancer by qPCR, it is critical to identify stable reference genes. In this study, twelve housekeeping genes (ACTB, GAPDH, 18S rRNA, GUSB, PPIA, PBGD, PUM1, TBP, HRPT1, RPLP0, RPL13A, and B2M) were analyzed in 50 ovarian samples from normal, benign, borderline, and malignant tissues. For reliable results, laser microdissection (LMD), an effective technique used to prepare homogeneous starting material, was utilized to precisely excise target tissues or cells. One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and nonparametric (Kruskal-Wallis) tests were used to compare the expression differences. NormFinder and geNorm software were employed to further validate the suitability and stability of the candidate genes. Results showed that epithelial cells occupied a small percentage of the normal ovary indeed. The expression of ACTB, PPIA, RPL13A, RPLP0, and TBP were stable independent of the disease progression. In addition, NormFinder and geNorm identified the most stable combination (ACTB, PPIA, RPLP0, and TBP) and the relatively unstable reference gene GAPDH from the twelve commonly used housekeeping genes. Our results highlight the use of homogeneous ovarian tissues and multiple-reference normalization strategy, e.g. the combination of ACTB, PPIA, RPLP0, and TBP, for qPCR in epithelial ovarian tissues, whereas GAPDH, the most commonly used reference gene, is not recommended, especially as a single reference gene.
PMCID: PMC4002476  PMID: 24776823
13.  Identification of Valid Reference Genes for the Normalization of RT-qPCR Expression Studies in Human Breast Cancer Cell Lines Treated with and without Transient Transfection 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(1):e0117058.
Reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) is a powerful technique for examining gene expression changes during tumorigenesis. Target gene expression is generally normalized by a stably expressed endogenous reference gene; however, reference gene expression may differ among tissues under various circumstances. Because no valid reference genes have been documented for human breast cancer cell lines containing different cancer subtypes treated with transient transfection, we identified appropriate and reliable reference genes from thirteen candidates in a panel of 10 normal and cancerous human breast cell lines under experimental conditions with/without transfection treatments with two transfection reagents. Reference gene expression stability was calculated using four algorithms (geNorm, NormFinder, BestKeeper and comparative delta Ct), and the recommended comprehensive ranking was provided using geometric means of the ranking values using the RefFinder tool. GeNorm analysis revealed that two reference genes should be sufficient for all cases in this study. A stability analysis suggests that 18S rRNA-ACTB is the best reference gene combination across all cell lines; ACTB-GAPDH is best for basal breast cancer cell lines; and HSPCB-ACTB is best for ER+ breast cancer cells. After transfection, the stability ranking of the reference gene fluctuated, especially with Lipofectamine 2000 transfection reagent in two subtypes of basal and ER+ breast cell lines. Comparisons of relative target gene (HER2) expression revealed different expressional patterns depending on the reference genes used for normalization. We suggest that identifying the most stable and suitable reference genes is critical for studying specific cell lines under certain circumstances.
PMCID: PMC4305315  PMID: 25617865
14.  MicroRNA expression profiling to identify and validate reference genes for relative quantification in colorectal cancer 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:173.
Advances in high-throughput technologies and bioinformatics have transformed gene expression profiling methodologies. The results of microarray experiments are often validated using reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR), which is the most sensitive and reproducible method to quantify gene expression. Appropriate normalisation of RT-qPCR data using stably expressed reference genes is critical to ensure accurate and reliable results. Mi(cro)RNA expression profiles have been shown to be more accurate in disease classification than mRNA expression profiles. However, few reports detailed a robust identification and validation strategy for suitable reference genes for normalisation in miRNA RT-qPCR studies.
We adopt and report a systematic approach to identify the most stable reference genes for miRNA expression studies by RT-qPCR in colorectal cancer (CRC). High-throughput miRNA profiling was performed on ten pairs of CRC and normal tissues. By using the mean expression value of all expressed miRNAs, we identified the most stable candidate reference genes for subsequent validation. As such the stability of a panel of miRNAs was examined on 35 tumour and 39 normal tissues. The effects of normalisers on the relative quantity of established oncogenic (miR-21 and miR-31) and tumour suppressor (miR-143 and miR-145) target miRNAs were assessed.
In the array experiment, miR-26a, miR-345, miR-425 and miR-454 were identified as having expression profiles closest to the global mean. From a panel of six miRNAs (let-7a, miR-16, miR-26a, miR-345, miR-425 and miR-454) and two small nucleolar RNA genes (RNU48 and Z30), miR-16 and miR-345 were identified as the most stably expressed reference genes. The combined use of miR-16 and miR-345 to normalise expression data enabled detection of a significant dysregulation of all four target miRNAs between tumour and normal colorectal tissue.
Our study demonstrates that the top six most stably expressed miRNAs (let-7a, miR-16, miR-26a, miR-345, miR-425 and miR-454) described herein should be validated as suitable reference genes in both high-throughput and lower throughput RT-qPCR colorectal miRNA studies.
PMCID: PMC2873395  PMID: 20429937
15.  Selection and validation of a set of reliable reference genes for quantitative RT-PCR studies in the brain of the Cephalopod Mollusc Octopus vulgaris 
BMC Molecular Biology  2009;10:70.
Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) is valuable for studying the molecular events underlying physiological and behavioral phenomena. Normalization of real-time PCR data is critical for a reliable mRNA quantification. Here we identify reference genes to be utilized in RT-qPCR experiments to normalize and monitor the expression of target genes in the brain of the cephalopod mollusc Octopus vulgaris, an invertebrate. Such an approach is novel for this taxon and of advantage in future experiments given the complexity of the behavioral repertoire of this species when compared with its relatively simple neural organization.
We chose 16S, and 18S rRNA, actB, EEF1A, tubA and ubi as candidate reference genes (housekeeping genes, HKG). The expression of 16S and 18S was highly variable and did not meet the requirements of candidate HKG. The expression of the other genes was almost stable and uniform among samples. We analyzed the expression of HKG into two different set of animals using tissues taken from the central nervous system (brain parts) and mantle (here considered as control tissue) by BestKeeper, geNorm and NormFinder. We found that HKG expressions differed considerably with respect to brain area and octopus samples in an HKG-specific manner. However, when the mantle is treated as control tissue and the entire central nervous system is considered, NormFinder revealed tubA and ubi as the most suitable HKG pair. These two genes were utilized to evaluate the relative expression of the genes FoxP, creb, dat and TH in O. vulgaris.
We analyzed the expression profiles of some genes here identified for O. vulgaris by applying RT-qPCR analysis for the first time in cephalopods. We validated candidate reference genes and found the expression of ubi and tubA to be the most appropriate to evaluate the expression of target genes in the brain of different octopuses. Our results also underline the importance of choosing a proper normalization strategy when analyzing gene expression by qPCR taking into appropriate account the experimental setting and variability of the sample of animals (and tissues), thus providing a set of HGK which expression appears to be unaffected by the experimental factor(s).
PMCID: PMC2722649  PMID: 19602224
16.  Selecting control genes for RT-QPCR using public microarray data 
BMC Bioinformatics  2009;10:42.
Gene expression analysis has emerged as a major biological research area, with real-time quantitative reverse transcription PCR (RT-QPCR) being one of the most accurate and widely used techniques for expression profiling of selected genes. In order to obtain results that are comparable across assays, a stable normalization strategy is required. In general, the normalization of PCR measurements between different samples uses one to several control genes (e.g. housekeeping genes), from which a baseline reference level is constructed. Thus, the choice of the control genes is of utmost importance, yet there is not a generally accepted standard technique for screening a large number of candidates and identifying the best ones.
We propose a novel approach for scoring and ranking candidate genes for their suitability as control genes. Our approach relies on publicly available microarray data and allows the combination of multiple data sets originating from different platforms and/or representing different pathologies. The use of microarray data allows the screening of tens of thousands of genes, producing very comprehensive lists of candidates. We also provide two lists of candidate control genes: one which is breast cancer-specific and one with more general applicability. Two genes from the breast cancer list which had not been previously used as control genes are identified and validated by RT-QPCR. Open source R functions are available at
We proposed a new method for identifying candidate control genes for RT-QPCR which was able to rank thousands of genes according to some predefined suitability criteria and we applied it to the case of breast cancer. We also empirically showed that translating the results from microarray to PCR platform was achievable.
PMCID: PMC2640357  PMID: 19187545
17.  Selection of suitable reference genes for accurate normalization of gene expression profile studies in non-small cell lung cancer 
BMC Cancer  2006;6:200.
In real-time RT quantitative PCR (qPCR) the accuracy of normalized data is highly dependent on the reliability of the reference genes (RGs). Failure to use an appropriate control gene for normalization of qPCR data may result in biased gene expression profiles, as well as low precision, so that only gross changes in expression level are declared statistically significant or patterns of expression are erroneously characterized. Therefore, it is essential to determine whether potential RGs are appropriate for specific experimental purposes. Aim of this study was to identify and validate RGs for use in the differentiation of normal and tumor lung expression profiles.
A meta-analysis of lung cancer transcription profiles generated with the GeneChip technology was used to identify five putative RGs. Their consistency and that of seven commonly used RGs was tested by using Taqman probes on 18 paired normal-tumor lung snap-frozen specimens obtained from non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients during primary curative resection.
The 12 RGs displayed showed a wide range of Ct values: except for rRNA18S (mean 9.8), the mean values of all the commercial RGs and ESD ranged from 19 to 26, whereas those of the microarray-selected RGs (BTF-3, YAP1, HIST1H2BC, RPL30) exceeded 26. RG expression stability within sample populations and under the experimental conditions (tumour versus normal lung specimens) was evaluated by: (1) descriptive statistic; (2) equivalence test; (3) GeNorm applet. All these approaches indicated that the most stable RGs were POLR2A, rRNA18S, YAP1 and ESD.
These data suggest that POLR2A, rRNA18S, YAP1 and ESD are the most suitable RGs for gene expression profile studies in NSCLC. Furthermore, they highlight the limitations of commercial RGs and indicate that meta-data analysis of genome-wide transcription profiling studies may identify new RGs.
PMCID: PMC1557528  PMID: 16872493
18.  Selection of Appropriate Reference Genes for RT-qPCR Analysis in a Streptozotocin-Induced Alzheimer’s Disease Model of Cynomolgus Monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56034.
Reverse transcription quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) has been widely used to quantify relative gene expression because of the specificity, sensitivity, and accuracy of this technique. In order to obtain reliable gene expression data from RT-qPCR experiments, it is important to utilize optimal reference genes for the normalization of target gene expression under varied experimental conditions. Previously, we developed and validated a novel icv-STZ cynomolgus monkey model for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) research. However, in order to enhance the reliability of this disease model, appropriate reference genes must be selected to allow meaningful analysis of the gene expression levels in the icv-STZ cynomolgus monkey brain. In this study, we assessed the expression stability of 9 candidate reference genes in 2 matched-pair brain samples (5 regions) of control cynomolgus monkeys and those who had received intracerebroventricular injection of streptozotocin (icv-STZ). Three well-known analytical programs geNorm, NormFinder, and BestKeeper were used to choose the suitable reference genes from the total sample group, control group, and icv-STZ group. Combination analysis of the 3 different programs clearly indicated that the ideal reference genes are RPS19 and YWHAZ in the total sample group, GAPDH and RPS19 in the control group, and ACTB and GAPDH in the icv-STZ group. Additionally, we validated the normalization accuracy of the most appropriate reference genes (RPS19 and YWHAZ) by comparison with the least stable gene (TBP) using quantification of the APP and MAPT genes in the total sample group. To the best of our knowledge, this research is the first study to identify and validate the appropriate reference genes in cynomolgus monkey brains. These findings provide useful information for future studies involving the expression of target genes in the cynomolgus monkey.
PMCID: PMC3573079  PMID: 23457495
19.  Reference genes for quantitative RT-PCR data in gastric tissues and cell lines 
AIM: To evaluate the suitability of reference genes in gastric tissue samples and cell lines.
METHODS: The suitability of genes ACTB, B2M, GAPDH, RPL29, and 18S rRNA was assessed in 21 matched pairs of neoplastic and adjacent non-neoplastic gastric tissues from patients with gastric adenocarcinoma, 27 normal gastric tissues from patients without cancer, and 4 cell lines using reverse transcription quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). The ranking of the best single and combination of reference genes was determined by NormFinder, geNorm™, BestKeeper, and DataAssist™. In addition, GenEx software was used to determine the optimal number of reference genes. To validate the results, the mRNA expression of a target gene, DNMT1, was quantified using the different reference gene combinations suggested by the various software packages for normalization.
RESULTS: ACTB was the best reference gene for all gastric tissues, cell lines and all gastric tissues plus cell lines. GAPDH + B2M or ACTB + B2M was the best combination of reference genes for all the gastric tissues. On the other hand, ACTB + B2M was the best combination for all the cell lines tested and was also the best combination for analyses involving all the gastric tissues plus cell lines. According to the GenEx software, 2 or 3 genes were the optimal number of references genes for all the gastric tissues. The relative quantification of DNMT1 showed similar patterns when normalized by each combination of reference genes. The level of expression of DNMT1 in neoplastic, adjacent non-neoplastic and normal gastric tissues did not differ when these samples were normalized using GAPDH + B2M (P = 0.32), ACTB + B2M (P = 0.61), or GAPDH + B2M + ACTB (P = 0.44).
CONCLUSION: GAPDH + B2M or ACTB + B2M is the best combination of reference gene for all the gastric tissues, and ACTB + B2M is the best combination for the cell lines tested.
PMCID: PMC3819548  PMID: 24222956
Gastric cancer; Reference gene; Normalization; Gene expression; Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction
20.  A Genome-Wide Screen for Promoter Methylation in Lung Cancer Identifies Novel Methylation Markers for Multiple Malignancies  
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e486.
Promoter hypermethylation coupled with loss of heterozygosity at the same locus results in loss of gene function in many tumor cells. The “rules” governing which genes are methylated during the pathogenesis of individual cancers, how specific methylation profiles are initially established, or what determines tumor type-specific methylation are unknown. However, DNA methylation markers that are highly specific and sensitive for common tumors would be useful for the early detection of cancer, and those required for the malignant phenotype would identify pathways important as therapeutic targets.
Methods and Findings
In an effort to identify new cancer-specific methylation markers, we employed a high-throughput global expression profiling approach in lung cancer cells. We identified 132 genes that have 5′ CpG islands, are induced from undetectable levels by 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine in multiple non-small cell lung cancer cell lines, and are expressed in immortalized human bronchial epithelial cells. As expected, these genes were also expressed in normal lung, but often not in companion primary lung cancers. Methylation analysis of a subset (45/132) of these promoter regions in primary lung cancer (n = 20) and adjacent nonmalignant tissue (n = 20) showed that 31 genes had acquired methylation in the tumors, but did not show methylation in normal lung or peripheral blood cells. We studied the eight most frequently and specifically methylated genes from our lung cancer dataset in breast cancer (n = 37), colon cancer (n = 24), and prostate cancer (n = 24) along with counterpart nonmalignant tissues. We found that seven loci were frequently methylated in both breast and lung cancers, with four showing extensive methylation in all four epithelial tumors.
By using a systematic biological screen we identified multiple genes that are methylated with high penetrance in primary lung, breast, colon, and prostate cancers. The cross-tumor methylation pattern we observed for these novel markers suggests that we have identified a partial promoter hypermethylation signature for these common malignancies. These data suggest that while tumors in different tissues vary substantially with respect to gene expression, there may be commonalities in their promoter methylation profiles that represent targets for early detection screening or therapeutic intervention.
John Minna and colleagues report that a group of genes are commonly methylated in primary lung, breast, colon, and prostate cancer.
Editors' Summary
Tumors or cancers contain cells that have lost many of the control mechanisms that normally regulate their behavior. Unlike normal cells, which only divide to repair damaged tissues, cancer cells divide uncontrollably. They also gain the ability to move round the body and start metastases in secondary locations. These changes in behavior result from alterations in their genetic material. For example, mutations (permanent changes in the sequence of nucleotides in the cell's DNA) in genes known as oncogenes stimulate cells to divide constantly. Mutations in another group of genes—tumor suppressor genes—disable their ability to restrain cell growth. Key tumor suppressor genes are often completely lost in cancer cells. But not all the genetic changes in cancer cells are mutations. Some are “epigenetic” changes—chemical modifications of genes that affect the amount of protein made from them. In cancer cells, methyl groups are often added to CG-rich regions—this is called hypermethylation. These “CpG islands” lie near gene promoters—sequences that control the transcription of DNA into RNA, the template for protein production—and their methylation switches off the promoter. Methylation of the promoter of one copy of a tumor suppressor gene, which often coincides with the loss of the other copy of the gene, is thought to be involved in cancer development.
Why Was This Study Done?
The rules that govern which genes are hypermethylated during the development of different cancer types are not known, but it would be useful to identify any DNA methylation events that occur regularly in common cancers for two reasons. First, specific DNA methylation markers might be useful for the early detection of cancer. Second, identifying these epigenetic changes might reveal cellular pathways that are changed during cancer development and so identify new therapeutic targets. In this study, the researchers have used a systematic biological screen to identify genes that are methylated in many lung, breast, colon, and prostate cancers—all cancers that form in “epithelial” tissues.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used microarray expression profiling to examine gene expression patterns in several lung cancer and normal lung cell lines. In this technique, labeled RNA molecules isolated from cells are applied to a “chip” carrying an array of gene fragments. Here, they stick to the fragment that represents the gene from which they were made, which allows the genes that the cells express to be catalogued. By comparing the expression profiles of lung cancer cells and normal lung cells before and after treatment with a chemical that inhibits DNA methylation, the researchers identified genes that were methylated in the cancer cells—that is, genes that were expressed in normal cells but not in cancer cells unless methylation was inhibited. 132 of these genes contained CpG islands. The researchers examined the promoters of 45 of these genes in lung cancer cells taken straight from patients and found that 31 of the promoters were methylated in tumor tissues but not in adjacent normal tissues. Finally, the researchers looked at promoter methylation of the eight genes most frequently and specifically methylated in the lung cancer samples in breast, colon, and prostate cancers. Seven of the genes were frequently methylated in both lung and breast cancers; four were extensively methylated in all the tumor types.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results identify several new genes that are often methylated in four types of epithelial tumor. The observation that these genes are methylated in multiple independent tumors strongly suggests, but does not prove, that loss of expression of the proteins that they encode helps to convert normal cells into cancer cells. The frequency and diverse patterning of promoter methylation in different tumor types also indicates that methylation is not a random event, although what controls the patterns of methylation is not yet known. The identification of these genes is a step toward building a promoter hypermethylation profile for the early detection of human cancer. Furthermore, although tumors in different tissues vary greatly with respect to gene expression patterns, the similarities seen in this study in promoter methylation profiles might help to identify new therapeutic targets common to several cancer types.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
US National Cancer Institute, information for patients on understanding cancer
CancerQuest, information provided by Emory University about how cancer develops
Cancer Research UK, information for patients on cancer biology
Wikipedia pages on epigenetics (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
The Epigenome Network of Excellence, background information and latest news about epigenetics
PMCID: PMC1716188  PMID: 17194187
21.  Identification and evaluation of new reference genes in Gossypium hirsutum for accurate normalization of real-time quantitative RT-PCR data 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:49.
Normalizing through reference genes, or housekeeping genes, can make more accurate and reliable results from reverse transcription real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Recent studies have shown that no single housekeeping gene is universal for all experiments. Thus, suitable reference genes should be the first step of any qPCR analysis. Only a few studies on the identification of housekeeping gene have been carried on plants. Therefore qPCR studies on important crops such as cotton has been hampered by the lack of suitable reference genes.
By the use of two distinct algorithms, implemented by geNorm and NormFinder, we have assessed the gene expression of nine candidate reference genes in cotton: GhACT4, GhEF1α5, GhFBX6, GhPP2A1, GhMZA, GhPTB, GhGAPC2, GhβTUB3 and GhUBQ14. The candidate reference genes were evaluated in 23 experimental samples consisting of six distinct plant organs, eight stages of flower development, four stages of fruit development and in flower verticils. The expression of GhPP2A1 and GhUBQ14 genes were the most stable across all samples and also when distinct plants organs are examined. GhACT4 and GhUBQ14 present more stable expression during flower development, GhACT4 and GhFBX6 in the floral verticils and GhMZA and GhPTB during fruit development. Our analysis provided the most suitable combination of reference genes for each experimental set tested as internal control for reliable qPCR data normalization. In addition, to illustrate the use of cotton reference genes we checked the expression of two cotton MADS-box genes in distinct plant and floral organs and also during flower development.
We have tested the expression stabilities of nine candidate genes in a set of 23 tissue samples from cotton plants divided into five different experimental sets. As a result of this evaluation, we recommend the use of GhUBQ14 and GhPP2A1 housekeeping genes as superior references for normalization of gene expression measures in different cotton plant organs; GhACT4 and GhUBQ14 for flower development, GhACT4 and GhFBX6 for the floral organs and GhMZA and GhPTB for fruit development. We also provide the primer sequences whose performance in qPCR experiments is demonstrated. These genes will enable more accurate and reliable normalization of qPCR results for gene expression studies in this important crop, the major source of natural fiber and also an important source of edible oil. The use of bona fide reference genes allowed a detailed and accurate characterization of the temporal and spatial expression pattern of two MADS-box genes in cotton.
PMCID: PMC2923523  PMID: 20302670
22.  Normalizing to GADPH jeopardises correct quantification of gene expression in ovarian tumours – IPO8 and RPL4 are reliable reference genes 
To ensure a correct interpretation of results obtained with quantitative real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR), it is critical to normalize to a reference gene with stable mRNA expression in the tissue of interest. GADPH is widely used as a reference gene in ovarian tumour studies, although lacking tissue-specific stability. The aim of this study was to identify alternative suitable reference genes for RT-qPCR studies on benign, borderline, and malignant ovarian tumours.
We assayed mRNA levels for 13 potential reference genes – ABL1, ACTB, CDKN1A, GADPH, GUSB, HPRT1, HSP90AB, IPO8, PPIA, RPL30, RPL4, RPLPO, and TBP –with RT-qPCR in 42 primary ovarian tumours, using commercially pre-designed RT-qPCR probes. Expression stability was subsequently analysed with four different statistical programs (GeNorm, NormFinder, BestKeeper, and the Equivalence test).
Expression of IPO8, RPL4, TBP, RPLPO, and ACTB had the least variation in expression across the tumour samples according to GeNorm, NormFinder, and BestKeeper. The Equivalence test found variation in expression within a 3-fold expression change between tumour groups for: IPO8, RPL40, RPL30, GUSB, TBP, RPLPO, ACTB, ABL1, and CDKN1A. However, only IPO8 satisfied at a 2-fold change as a cut-off. Overall, IPO8 and RPL4 had the highest, whereas GADPH and HPRT1 the lowest expression stability. Employment of suitable reference genes (IPO8, RPL4) in comparison with unsuitable ones (GADPH, HPRT1), demonstrated divergent influence on the mRNA expression pattern of our target genes − GPER and uPAR.
We found IPO8 and RPL4 to be suitable reference genes for normalization of target gene expression in benign, borderline, and malignant ovarian tumours. Moreover, IPO8 can be recommended as a single reference gene. Neither GADPH nor HPRT1 should be used as reference genes in studies on ovarian tumour tissue.
PMCID: PMC3766134  PMID: 24001041
23.  Evaluation of Reference Genes for Quantitative Real-Time PCR in Oil Palm Elite Planting Materials Propagated by Tissue Culture 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99774.
The somatic embryogenesis tissue culture process has been utilized to propagate high yielding oil palm. Due to the low callogenesis and embryogenesis rates, molecular studies were initiated to identify genes regulating the process, and their expression levels are usually quantified using reverse transcription quantitative real-time PCR (RT-qPCR). With the recent release of oil palm genome sequences, it is crucial to establish a proper strategy for gene analysis using RT-qPCR. Selection of the most suitable reference genes should be performed for accurate quantification of gene expression levels.
In this study, eight candidate reference genes selected from cDNA microarray study and literature review were evaluated comprehensively across 26 tissue culture samples using RT-qPCR. These samples were collected from two tissue culture lines and media treatments, which consisted of leaf explants cultures, callus and embryoids from consecutive developmental stages. Three statistical algorithms (geNorm, NormFinder and BestKeeper) confirmed that the expression stability of novel reference genes (pOP-EA01332, PD00380 and PD00569) outperformed classical housekeeping genes (GAPDH, NAD5, TUBULIN, UBIQUITIN and ACTIN). PD00380 and PD00569 were identified as the most stably expressed genes in total samples, MA2 and MA8 tissue culture lines. Their applicability to validate the expression profiles of a putative ethylene-responsive transcription factor 3-like gene demonstrated the importance of using the geometric mean of two genes for normalization.
Systematic selection of the most stably expressed reference genes for RT-qPCR was established in oil palm tissue culture samples. PD00380 and PD00569 were selected for accurate and reliable normalization of gene expression data from RT-qPCR. These data will be valuable to the research associated with the tissue culture process. Also, the method described here will facilitate the selection of appropriate reference genes in other oil palm tissues and in the expression profiling of genes relating to yield, biotic and abiotic stresses.
PMCID: PMC4057393  PMID: 24927412
24.  Identification of new reference genes for the normalisation of canine osteoarthritic joint tissue transcripts from microarray data 
Real-time reverse transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction (real-time RT-qPCR) is the most accurate measure of gene expression in biological systems. The comparison of different samples requires the transformation of data through a process called normalisation. Reference or housekeeping genes are candidate genes which are selected on the basis of constitutive expression across samples, and allow the quantification of changes in gene expression. At present, no reference gene has been identified for any organism which is universally optimal for use across different tissue types or disease situations. We used microarray data to identify new reference genes generated from total RNA isolated from normal and osteoarthritic canine articular tissues (bone, ligament, cartilage, synovium and fat). RT-qPCR assays were designed and applied to each different articular tissue. Reference gene expression stability and ranking was compared using three different mathematical algorithms.
Twelve new potential reference genes were identified from microarray data. One gene (mitochondrial ribosomal protein S7 [MRPS7]) was stably expressed in all five of the articular tissues evaluated. One gene HIRA interacting protein 5 isoform 2 [HIRP5]) was stably expressed in four of the tissues evaluated. A commonly used reference gene glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) was not stably expressed in any of the tissues evaluated. Most consistent agreement between rank ordering of reference genes was observed between Bestkeeper© and geNorm, although each method tended to agree on the identity of the most stably expressed genes and the least stably expressed genes for each tissue. New reference genes identified using microarray data normalised in a conventional manner were more stable than those identified by microarray data normalised by using a real-time RT-qPCR methodology.
Microarray data normalised by a conventional manner can be filtered using a simple stepwise procedure to identify new reference genes, some of which will demonstrate good measures of stability. Mitochondrial ribosomal protein S7 is a new reference gene worthy of investigation in other canine tissues and diseases. Different methods of reference gene stability assessment will generally agree on the most and least stably expressed genes, when co-regulation is not present.
PMCID: PMC1976117  PMID: 17651481
25.  Standardization of Gene Expression Quantification by Absolute Real-Time qRT-PCR System Using a Single Standard for Marker and Reference Genes 
Biomarker Insights  2010;5:79-85.
In the last decade, genome-wide gene expression data has been collected from a large number of cancer specimens. In many studies utilizing either microarray-based or knowledge-based gene expression profiling, both the validation of candidate genes and the identification and inclusion of biomarkers in prognosis-modeling has employed real-time quantitative PCR on reverse transcribed mRNA (qRT-PCR) because of its inherent sensitivity and quantitative nature. In qRT-PCR data analysis, an internal reference gene is used to normalize the variation in input sample quantity. The relative quantification method used in current real-time qRT-PCR analysis fails to ensure data comparability pivotal in identification of prognostic biomarkers. By employing an absolute qRT-PCR system that uses a single standard for marker and reference genes (SSMR) to achieve absolute quantification, we showed that the normalized gene expression data is comparable and independent of variations in the quantities of sample as well as the standard used for generating standard curves. We compared two sets of normalized gene expression data with same histological diagnosis of brain tumor from two labs using relative and absolute real-time qRT-PCR. Base-10 logarithms of the gene expression ratio relative to ACTB were evaluated for statistical equivalence between tumors processed by two different labs. The results showed an approximate comparability for normalized gene expression quantified using a SSMR-based qRT-PCR. Incomparable results were seen for the gene expression data using relative real-time qRT-PCR, due to inequality in molar concentration of two standards for marker and reference genes. Overall results show that SSMR-based real-time qRT-PCR ensures comparability of gene expression data much needed in establishment of prognostic/predictive models for cancer patients—a process that requires large sample sizes by combining independent sets of data.
PMCID: PMC2935814  PMID: 20838605
gene expression; quantification; qRT-PCR; biomarkers

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