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Biotechniques. 1995 Jan;18(1):70-4, 76.

Quantitative RT-PCR for measuring gene expression.

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Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY.


Classical Northern blot analysis for measuring mRNA requires too many cells to be practical for cell sorting. Yet, measurement of gene expression in small subsets within a heterogeneous population of cells is often desired. The PCR in combination with prior reverse transcription (RT-PCR) of the mRNA of interest provides a means for measuring gene expression using as few as one cell. When RT-PCR is performed, the reliability of the data can be highly subjective due to the efficiency of both RT and PCR steps. This subjectivity can be eliminated by a technique for quantitating specific RNA molecules using an internal RNA competitive reference standard (RNA-CRS), which is identical to the sequence of interest except for a deletion of 80 bases. Here we illustrate a strategy for quantitative PCR using a RNA-CRS, synthesized solely using nonplasmid-based PCR techniques. The competitive reaction consists of a constant quantity of wild-type mRNA (from 100-1000 cells) added individually to tubes containing a serially decreasing amount of RNA-CRS. The RT-PCR is performed on these samples, then the resulting product is analyzed by gel electrophoresis and densitometry. The procedure for preparing the RNA-CRS and subsequent RT-PCR steps are described in detail.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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