Identification of extremely GC-rich micro RNAs for RT-qPCR data normalization in human plasma

Volker Baumann, Angelos-Theodoros Athanasiou, Omid R. Faridani, Andreas R. Schwerdtfeger, Bernard Wallner, Ralf Steinborn

We aimed at extending the repertoire of high-quality miRNA normalizers for reverse transcription-quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) of human plasma with special emphasis on the extremely guanine-cytosine-rich portion of the miRNome. For high-throughput selection of stable candidates, microarray technology was preferred over small-RNA sequencing (sRNA-seq) since the latter underrepresented miRNAs with a guanine-cytosine (GC) content of at least 75% (p = 0.0002, n = 2). miRNA abundances measured on the microarray were ranked for consistency and uniformity using nine normalization approaches. The eleven most stable sequences included miRNAs of moderate, but also extreme GC content (45%–65%: miR-320d, miR-425-5p, miR-185-5p, miR-486-5p; 80%–95%: miR-1915-3p, miR-3656-5p, miR-3665-5p, miR-3960-5p, miR-4488-5p, miR-4497 and miR-4787-5p). In contrast, the seven extremely GC-rich miRNAs were not found in the two plasma miRNomes screened by sRNA-seq. Stem-loop RT-qPCR was employed for stability verification in 32 plasma samples of healthy male Caucasians (age range: 18–55 years). In general, inter-individual variance of miRNA abundance was low or very low as indicated by coefficient of variation (CV) values of 0.6%–8.2%. miR-3665 and miR-1915-3p outperformed in this analysis (CVs: 0.6 and 2.4%, respectively). The eight most stable sequences included four extremely GC-rich miRNAs (miR-1915-3p, miR-3665, miR-4787-5p and miR-4497). The best-performing duo normalization factor (NF) for the condition of human plasma, miR-320d and miR-4787-5p, also included a GC-extreme miRNA. In summary, the identification of extremely guanine-cytosine-rich plasma normalizers will help to increase accuracy of PCR-based miRNA quantification, thus raise the potential that miRNAs become markers for psychological stress reactions or early and precise diagnosis of clinical phenotypes. The novel miRNAs might also be useful for orthologous contexts considering their conservation in related animal genomes.

Department für Verhaltens- und Kognitionsbiologie, Department für Mikrobiologie, Immunbiologie und Genetik
Externe Organisation(en)
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, University of New South Wales, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz
Frontiers in Genetics
ÖFOS 2012
106013 Genetik
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