Experimental dermatology

Identification and validation of reference genes for expression studies in human keratinocyte cell lines treated with and without interferon-γ - a method for qRT-PCR reference gene determination.

PMID 22775998


Based on the exquisite sensitivity, reproducibility and wide dynamic range of quantitative reverse-transcription real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), it is currently the gold standard for gene expression studies. Target gene expression is calculated relative to a stably expressed reference gene. An ideal reference should be uniformly expressed during all experimental conditions within the given experimental system. However, no commonly applicable 'best' reference gene has been identified. Thus, endogenous controls must be determined for every experimental system. As no appropriate reference genes have been reported for immunological studies in keratinocytes, we aimed at identifying and validating a set of endogenous controls for these settings. An extensive validation of sixteen possible endogenous controls in a panel of 8 normal and transformed keratinocyte cell lines in experimental conditions with and without interferon-γ was performed. RNA and cDNA quality was stringently controlled. Candidate reference genes were assessed by TaqMan(®) qRT-PCR. Two different statistical algorithms were used to determine the most stably and reproducibly expressed housekeeping genes. mRNA abundance was compared and reference genes with widely different ranges of expression than possible target genes were excluded. Subsequent geNorm and NormFinder analyses identified GAPDH, PGK1, IPO8 and PPIA as the most stably expressed genes in the keratinocyte panel under the given experimental conditions. We conclude that the geometric means of expression values of these four genes represents a robust normalization factor for qRT-PCR analyses in interferon-γ-dependent gene expression studies in keratinocytes. The methodology and results herein may help other researchers by facilitating their choice of reference genes.