Effect of carbon monoxide on gene expression in cerebrocortical astrocytes: Validation of reference genes for quantitative real-time PCR

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Quantitative real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) is a widely used technique to characterize changes in gene expression in complex cellular and tissue processes, such as cytoprotection or inflammation. The accurate assessment of changes in gene expression depends on the selection of adequate internal reference gene(s). Carbon monoxide (CO) affects several metabolic pathways and de novo protein synthesis is crucial in the cellular responses to this gasotransmitter. Herein a selection of commonly used reference genes was analyzed to identify the most suitable internal control genes to evaluate the effect of CO on gene expression in cultured cerebrocortical astrocytes. The cells were exposed to CO by treatment with CORM-A1 (CO releasing molecule A1) and four different algorithms (geNorm, NormFinder, Delta Ct and BestKeeper) were applied to evaluate the stability of eight putative reference genes. Our results indicate that Gapdh (glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase) together with Ppia (peptidylpropyl isomerase A) is the most suitable gene pair for normalization of qRT-PCR results under the experimental conditions used. Pgla (phosphoglycerate kinase 1), Hprt1 (hypoxanthine guanine phosphoribosyl transferase I), Sdha (Succinate Dehydrogenase Complex, Subunit A), Tbp (TATA box binding protein), Actg1 (actin gamma 1) and Rn18s (18S rRNA) genes presented less stable expression profiles in cultured cortical astrocytes exposed to CORM-A1 for up to 60 min. For validation, we analyzed the effect of CO on the expression of Bdnf and bcl-2. Different results were obtained, depending on the reference genes used. A significant increase in the expression of both genes was found when the results were normalized with Gapdh and Ppia, in contrast with the results obtained when the other genes were used as reference. These findings highlight the need for a proper and accurate selection of the reference genes used in the quantification of qRT-PCR results in studies on the effect of CO in gene expression. (C) 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-89
Number of pages10
JournalNitric Oxide-Biology And Chemistry
Issue numberNA
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2015


  • Carbon monoxide
  • Astrocytes
  • Reference genes
  • Quantitative real-time reverse transcription


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