Adapted approach to profile genes while reconciling vegf-a mRNA expression in the developing and injured lung

Daniel D. Lee, Margaret A. Schwarz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


During lung development and injury, messenger RNA (mRNA) transcript levels of genes fluctuate over both space and time. Quantitative PCR (qPCR) is a highly sensitive, widely used technique to measure the mRNA levels. The sensitivity of this technique can be disadvantageous and errors amplified when each qPCR assay is not validated. In contrast to other organs, lungs have high RNase activity, resulting in less than optimal RNA integrity. We implemented a strategy to address these limitations in developing and injured lungs. Parameters were established and a filter designed that optimized amplicon length and included or excluded samples based on RNA integrity. This approach was illustrated and validated by measuring mRNA levels including Vegf-a in newborn mouse lungs that were injured by 85% oxygen (hyperoxia) for 12 days and compared with control (normoxia). We demonstrate that, in contrast to contradictory Vegf-a expression when normalized to the least suitable housekeeping genes, application of this filter and normalization to most suitable three housekeeping genes, Hprt, Eef2, and Rpl13a, gave reproducible Vegf-a expression, thus corroborating the sample filter. Accordingly, both short amplicon length and proper normalization to ranked, evaluated genes minimized erroneous fluctuation and qPCR amplification issues associated with nonideal RNA integrity in injured and developing lungs. Furthermore, our work uncovers how RNA integrity, purity, amplicon length, and discovery of stable candidate reference genes enhance precision of qPCR results and utilizes the advantages of qPCR in developmental studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1202-1211
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2015


  • Eef2
  • Hprt
  • Lung development
  • Rpl13a
  • Vegf-a

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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