JOURNAL ARTICLE

Selection of reference genes for quantitative gene expression normalization in flax (Linum usitatissimum L.)

Rudy Huis, Simon Hawkins, Godfrey Neutelings
BMC Plant Biology 2010, 10: 71
20403198

BACKGROUND: Quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) is currently the most accurate method for detecting differential gene expression. Such an approach depends on the identification of uniformly expressed 'housekeeping genes' (HKGs). Extensive transcriptomic data mining and experimental validation in different model plants have shown that the reliability of these endogenous controls can be influenced by the plant species, growth conditions and organs/tissues examined. It is therefore important to identify the best reference genes to use in each biological system before using qRT-PCR to investigate differential gene expression. In this paper we evaluate different candidate HKGs for developmental transcriptomic studies in the economically-important flax fiber- and oil-crop (Linum usitatissimum L).

RESULTS: Specific primers were designed in order to quantify the expression levels of 20 different potential housekeeping genes in flax roots, internal- and external-stem tissues, leaves and flowers at different developmental stages. After calculations of PCR efficiencies, 13 HKGs were retained and their expression stabilities evaluated by the computer algorithms geNorm and NormFinder. According to geNorm, 2 Transcriptional Elongation Factors (TEFs) and 1 Ubiquitin gene are necessary for normalizing gene expression when all studied samples are considered. However, only 2 TEFs are required for normalizing expression in stem tissues. In contrast, NormFinder identified glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GADPH) as the most stably expressed gene when all samples were grouped together, as well as when samples were classed into different sub-groups.qRT-PCR was then used to investigate the relative expression levels of two splice variants of the flax LuMYB1 gene (homologue of AtMYB59). LuMYB1-1 and LuMYB1-2 were highly expressed in the internal stem tissues as compared to outer stem tissues and other samples. This result was confirmed with both geNorm-designated- and NormFinder-designated-reference genes.

CONCLUSIONS: The use of 2 different statistical algorithms results in the identification of different combinations of flax HKGs for expression data normalization. Despite such differences, the use of geNorm-designated- and NormFinder-designated-reference genes enabled us to accurately compare the expression levels of a flax MYB gene in different organs and tissues. Our identification and validation of suitable flax HKGs will facilitate future developmental transcriptomic studies in this economically-important plant.

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