Ropenga, A., Chapel, A., Vandamme, M., and Griffiths, N. M. Use of Reference Gene Expression in Rat Distal Colon after Radiation Exposure: A Caveat. Radiat. Res. 161, 597– 602 (2004).
Research on the effects of ionizing radiation exposure includes transcriptome studies using real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). These studies require the use of a reference gene that normalizes for cDNA quantity and corrects for transcription between different samples. In this study, several criteria are reviewed that allow the choice of a reference gene. With the example of five genes selected from the widely used standard housekeeping genes, Gapd (glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase), Hprt (hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyl transferase), cyclophilin A, AcRP0 (acidic ribosomal protein P0) and 18S, we show that the use of a reference gene without a preliminary study is hazardous. We have shown in rat colon after a hemi-body irradiation that expression of a gene of interest, the serotonin receptor type 1F (5-HT1F), was either increased or unchanged, with the result depending on the reference gene used. This work has led us to propose the use of two reference genes, a ribosomal gene, 18S, and another gene with a level of expression closer to that of the gene of interest. The methodology reported here may be applied to other studies of gene expression levels to evaluate the effects of experimental treatment on the expression of potential reference genes.