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RNA. 2009 Dec;15(12):2375-84. doi: 10.1261/rna.1754109. Epub 2009 Oct 27.

Absolute quantification of microRNAs by using a universal reference.

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Miltenyi Biotec GmbH, 51429 Bergisch Gladbach, Germany.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a species of small RNAs approximately 21-23-nucleotides long that have been shown to play an important role in many different cellular, developmental, and physiological processes. Accordingly, numerous PCR-, sequencing-, or hybridization-based methods have been established to identify and quantify miRNAs. Their short length results in a high dynamic range of melting temperatures and therefore impedes a proper selection of detection probes or optimized PCR primers. While miRNA microarrays allow for massive parallel and accurate relative measurement of all known miRNAs, they have so far been less useful as an assay for absolute quantification. Here, we present a microarray-based approach for global and absolute quantification of miRNAs. The method relies on the parallel hybridization of the sample of interest labeled with Cy5 and a universal reference of 954 synthetic miRNAs in equimolar concentrations that are labeled with Cy3 on a microarray slide containing probes for all human, mouse, rat, and viral miRNAs (miRBase 12.0). Each single miRNA is quantified with respect to the universal reference canceling biases related to sequence, labeling, or hybridization. We demonstrate the accuracy of the method by various spike-in experiments. Furthermore, we quantified miRNA copy numbers in liver samples and CD34(+)/CD133(-) hematopoietic progenitor cells.

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