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An evaluation of potential reference genes for stability of expression in two salmonid cell lines after infection with either Piscirickettsia salmonis or IPNV

Andrea A Peña1*, Niels C Bols2 and Sergio H Marshall1

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratorio de Genética e Inmunología Molecular, Instituto de Biología, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Av. Brasil 2950, Valparaíso, Chile

2 Department of Biology, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, Canada

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BMC Research Notes 2010, 3:101  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-3-101

Published: 14 April 2010



Due to the limited number of species specific antibodies against fish proteins, differential gene expression analyses are vital for the study of host immune responses. Quantitative real-time reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR) is one of the most powerful tools for this purpose. Nevertheless, the accuracy of the method will depend on the careful selection of genes whose expression are stable and can be used as internal controls for a particular experimental setting.


The expression stability of five commonly used housekeeping genes [beta-actin (ACTB), elongation factor 1-alpha (EF1A), ubiquitin (UBQ), glyceraldehyd-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) and tubulin alpha (TUBA)] were monitored in salmonid cell lines CHSE-214 and RTS11 after infection with two of the most fastidious fish pathogens, the facultative bacterium Piscirickettsia salmonis and the aquabirnavirus IPNV (Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis Virus). After geNorm analysis, UBQ and EF1A appeared as the most stable, although EF1A was slightly upregulated at late stages of P. salmonis infection in RTS11. ACTB instead, showed a good performance in each case, being always considered within the three most stable genes of the panel. In contrast, infection-dependent differential regulation of GAPDH and TUBA was also demonstrated.


Based on the data presented here with the cell culture models CHSE-214 and RTS11, we suggest the initial choice of UBQ, ACTB and EF1A as reference genes in qRT-PCR assays for studying the effect of P. salmonis and IPNV on the host immune response.