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1.  RNA isolation for transcriptomics of human and mouse small skin biopsies 
BMC Research Notes  2011;4:438.
Background
Isolation of RNA from skin biopsies presents a challenge, due to the tough nature of skin tissue and a high presence of RNases. As we lacked the dedicated equipment, i.e. homogenizer or bead-beater, needed for the available RNA from skin isolation methods, we adapted and tested our zebrafish single-embryo RNA-isolation protocol for RNA isolation from skin punch biopsies.
Findings
We tested our new RNA-isolation protocol in two experiments: a large-scale study with 97 human skin samples, and a small study with 16 mouse skin samples. Human skin was sampled with 4.0 mm biopsy punches and for the mouse skin different punch diameter sizes were tested; 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, and 2.5 mm. The average RNA yield in human samples was 1.5 μg with an average RNA quality RIN value of 8.1. For the mouse biopsies, the average RNA yield was 2.4 μg with an average RIN value of 7.5. For 96% of the human biopsies and 100% of the mouse biopsies we obtained enough high-quality RNA. The RNA samples were successfully tested in a transcriptomics analysis using the Affymetrix and Roche NimbleGen platforms.
Conclusions
Using our new RNA-isolation protocol, we were able to consistently isolate high-quality RNA, which is apt for further transcriptomics analysis. Furthermore, this method is already useable on biopsy material obtained with a punch diameter as small as 1.5 mm.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-438
PMCID: PMC3221605  PMID: 22023775
2.  RNA isolation method for single embryo transcriptome analysis in zebrafish 
BMC Research Notes  2010;3:73.
Background
Transcriptome analysis during embryogenesis usually requires pooling of embryos to obtain sufficient RNA. Hence, the measured levels of gene-expression represent the average mRNA levels of pooled samples and the biological variation among individuals is confounded. This can irreversibly reduce the robustness, resolution, or expressiveness of the experiment. Therefore, we developed a robust method to isolate abundant high-quality RNA from individual embryos to perform single embryo transcriptome analyses using zebrafish as a model organism. Available methods for embryonic zebrafish RNA isolation minimally utilize ten embryos. Further downscaling of these methods to one embryo is practically not feasible.
Findings
We developed a single embryo RNA extraction method based on sample homogenization in liquid nitrogen, RNA extraction with phenol and column purification. Evaluation of this method showed that: the quality of the RNA was very good with an average RIN value of 8.3-8.9; the yield was always ≥ 200 ng RNA per embryo; the method was applicable to all stages of zebrafish embryogenesis; the success rate was almost 100%; and the extracted RNA performed excellent in microarray experiments in that the technical variation was much lower than the biological variation.
Conclusions
Presented is a high-quality, robust RNA isolation method. Obtaining sufficient RNA from single embryos eliminates the necessity of sample pooling and its associated drawbacks. Although our RNA isolation method has been setup for transcriptome analysis in zebrafish, it can also be used for other model systems and other applications like (q)PCR and transcriptome sequencing.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-3-73
PMCID: PMC2845602  PMID: 20233395
3.  SigWinR; the SigWin-detector updated and ported to R 
BMC Research Notes  2009;2:205.
Background
Our SigWin-detector discovers significantly enriched windows of (genomic) elements in any sequence of values (genes or other genomic elements in a DNA sequence) in a fast and reproducible way. However, since it is grid based, only (life) scientists with access to the grid can use this tool. Therefore and on request, we have developed the SigWinR package which makes the SigWin-detector available to a much wider audience. At the same time, we have introduced several improvements to its algorithm as well as its functionality, based on the feedback of SigWin-detector end users.
Findings
To allow usage of the SigWin-detector on a desktop computer, we have rewritten it as a package for R: SigWinR. R is a free and widely used multi platform software environment for statistical computing and graphics. The package can be installed and used on all platforms for which R is available. The improvements involve: a visualization of the input-sequence values supporting the interpretation of Ridgeograms; a visualization allowing for an easy interpretation of enriched or depleted regions in the sequence using windows of pre-defined size; an option that allows the analysis of circular sequences, which results in rectangular Ridgeograms; an application to identify regions of co-altered gene expression (ROCAGEs) with a real-life biological use-case; adaptation of the algorithm to allow analysis of non-regularly sampled data using a constant window size in physical space without resampling the data. To achieve this, support for analysis of windows with an even number of elements was added.
Conclusion
By porting the SigWin-detector as an R package, SigWinR, improving its algorithm and functionality combined with adequate performance, we have made SigWin-detector more useful as well as more easily accessible to scientists without a grid infrastructure.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-2-205
PMCID: PMC2762987  PMID: 19807919

Results 1-3 (3)