Identification of reference genes for qRT-PCR in human lung squamous-cell carcinoma by RNA-Seq.
Although the accuracy of quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) is highly dependent on the reliable reference genes, many commonly used reference genes are not stably expressed and as such are not suitable for quantification and normalization of qRT-PCR data. The aim of this study was to identify novel reliable reference genes in lung squamous-cell carcinoma. We used RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) to survey the whole genome expression in 5 lung normal samples and 44 lung squamous-cell carcinoma samples. We evaluated the expression profiles of 15 commonly used reference genes and identified five additional candidate reference genes. To validate the RNA-Seq dataset, we used qRT-PCR to verify the expression levels of these 20 genes in a separate set of 100 pairs of normal lung tissue and lung squamous-cell carcinoma samples, and then analyzed these results using geNorm and NormFinder. With respect to 14 of the 15 common reference genes (B2M, GAPDH, GUSB, HMBS, HPRT1, IPO8, PGK1, POLR2A, PPIA, RPLP0, TBP, TFRC, UBC, and YWHAZ), the expression levels were either too low to be easily detected, or exhibited a high degree of variability either between lung normal and squamous-cell carcinoma samples, or even among samples of the same tissue type. In contrast, 1 of the 15 common reference genes (ACTB) and the 5 additional candidate reference genes (EEF1A1, FAU, RPS9, RPS11, and RPS14) were stably and constitutively expressed at high levels in all the samples tested. ACTB, EEF1A1, FAU, RPS9, RPS11, and RPS14 are ideal reference genes for qRT-PCR analysis of lung squamous-cell carcinoma, while 14 commonly used qRT-PCR reference genes are less appropriate in this context.