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J Neurosci Methods. 2000 Jun 30;99(1-2):45-51.

Quantification of relative mRNA expression in the rat brain using simple RT-PCR and ethidium bromide staining.

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Department of Biological Science and Technology, School of High-Technology for Human Welfare, Tokai University, Numazu, 410-0321, Shizuoka, Japan.


We developed a protocol for quantification of relative gene expression using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) without the use of radioisotopes, special equipment or extra nucleotide fragments, such as competitors. The relative gene expression of GABA(A) receptor beta(1) subunit (GABA(A)Rbeta(1)) and phospholipase C beta(4) subtype (PLCbeta(4)) in rat cerebrum and cerebellum were determined by comparing the ratio of PCR products generated by linear amplification of the target cDNA segments and glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) cDNA segment as a reference. The density of PCR products was measured from digitized images of photographs of ethidium-bromide-stained agarose gels. The linear region of PCR amplification was within the linear range (from 0.3 to 12 ng DNA in a single band) of the detection system. The accuracy of the present method was <2-fold difference in gene expression in a single determination and a 1.5-fold difference was statistically significant after repeated measurements. The estimated relative expression of PLCbeta(4) was significantly higher in cerebellum than cerebrum, and that of GABA(A)Rbeta(1) was the same in these two regions. Using the present method, it is possible to quantify several different subunits and subtypes of known ion channel, neurotransmitter receptor and intracellular signaling enzyme gene families.

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