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Open Access Short Report

Reference gene validation for qPCR in rat carotid body during postnatal development

Insook Kim1, Dongjin Yang1, Xinyu Tang2 and John L Carroll1*

Author Affiliations

1 University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA

2 University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Biostatistics, Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:440  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-440

Published: 24 October 2011

Abstract

Background

The carotid bodies are the main arterial oxygen chemoreceptors in mammals. Afferent neural output from the carotid bodies to brainstem respiratory and cardiovascular nuclei provides tonic input and mediates important protective responses to acute and chronic hypoxia. It is widely accepted that the selection of reference genes for mRNA normalization in quantitative real-time PCR must be validated for a given tissue and set of conditions. This is particularly important for studies in carotid body during early postnatal maturation as the arterial oxygen tension undergoes major changes from fetal to postnatal life, which may affect reference gene expression. In order to determine the most stable and suitable reference genes for the study of rat carotid body during development, six commonly used reference genes, β-actin, RPII (RNA polymerase II), PPIA (peptidyl-proyl-isomerase A), TBP (TATA-box binding protein), GAPDH, and 18s rRNA, were evaluated in two age groups (P0-1 and P14-16) under three environmental oxygen conditions (normoxia, chronic hypoxia and chronic hyperoxia) using the three most commonly used software programs, geNorm, NormFinder and BestKeeper.

Findings

The three programs produced similar results but the reference gene rankings were not identical between programs or experimental conditions. Overall, 18s rRNA was the least stable reference gene for carotid body and, when hyperoxia and/or hypoxia conditions were included, actin was similarly unstable.

Conclusions

Reference or housekeeping gene expression for qPCR studies of carotid body during postnatal development may vary with developmental stage and environmental conditions. Selection of the best reference gene or combination of reference genes for carotid body development studies should take environmental conditions into account. Two commonly used reference genes, 18s rRNA and actin, may be unsuitable for studies of carotid body maturation, especially if the study design includes altered oxygen conditions.