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Open Access Short Report

Evaluation of a novel approach for the measurement of RNA quality

Timothy M Wilkes*, Alison S Devonshire, Stephen LR Ellison and Carole A Foy

Author Affiliations

LGC, Queens Road, Teddington, Middlesex, TW11 0LY, UK

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BMC Research Notes 2010, 3:89  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-3-89

Published: 1 April 2010

Abstract

Background

Microarray data interpretation can be affected by sample RNA integrity. The ScreenTape Degradation Value (SDV) is a novel RNA integrity metric specific to the ScreenTape® platform (Lab901). To characterise the performance of the ScreenTape® platform for RNA analysis and determine the robustness of the SDV metric, a panel of intentionally degraded RNA samples was prepared. These samples were used to evaluate the ScreenTape® platform against an alternative approach for measuring RNA integrity (Agilent Bioanalyzer RIN value). The samples were also subjected to microarray analysis and the resulting data correlated to the RNA integrity metrics.

Findings

Measurement of SDV for a panel of intentionally degraded RNA samples ranged from 0 for intact RNA to 37 for degraded RNA, with corresponding RIN values ranging from 10 to 4 for the same set of samples. SDV and RIN scales both demonstrated comparable discrimination between differently treated samples (RIN 10 to 7, SDV 0 to 15), with the SDV exhibiting better discrimination at higher degradation levels. Increasing SDV values correlated with a decrease in microarray sample labelling efficiency and an increase in numbers of differentially expressed genes.

Conclusions

The ScreenTape® platform is comparable to the Bioanalyzer platform in terms of reproducibility and discrimination between different levels of RNA degradation. The robust nature of the SDV metric qualifies it as an alternative metric for RNA sample quality control, and a useful predictor of downstream microarray performance.