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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2007 Apr;269(2):265-72. Epub 2007 Jan 30.

Evaluation of housekeeping genes in Listeria monocytogenes as potential internal control references for normalizing mRNA expression levels in stress adaptation models using real-time PCR.

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Institute for Food Safety and Hygiene, Vetsuisse Faculty University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.


Listeria monocytogenes is an important food-borne pathogen that can tolerate a wide range of stress conditions. However, its stress adaptation processes are still poorly understood. Real-time-based quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) provides a tool to probe gene expression changes underlying stress adaptation. But, a limitation to study mRNA levels by real-time qRT-PCR is that validated reference genes are required for normalization. Such genes are currently lacking for experimental models that may be applied to evaluate stress-related gene expression changes in L. monocytogenes. Therefore, five housekeeping genes (HKG) were studied as potential reference genes. Their expression stability was evaluated across 16 L. monocytogenes strains. Three experimental models designed to assess gene expression changes induced by cold, acid and high NaCl concentration stress adaptation were applied. The 16S rRNA gene was consistently the most stably expressed HKG across the different L. monocytogenes strains under all the experimental conditions. While the expressions of beta-glucosidase (bglA), Glyceraldehyde-3P-dehydrogenase (gap), RNA polymerase beta subunit (rpoB) and Ribosomal protein L4 (rplD) was stable amongst the different L. monocytogenes strains, they were prone to significant variations under the different stress adaptation models.

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