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Research Article

Using Ribosomal Protein Genes as Reference: A Tale of Caution

  • Lieven Thorrez,

    Affiliations: Gene Expression Unit, Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium, Department of Electrical Engineering, ESAT-SCD, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium, SymBioSys, K.U.Leuven Center for Computational Systems Biology, Leuven, Belgium

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  • Katrijn Van Deun,

    Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium, SymBioSys, K.U.Leuven Center for Computational Systems Biology, Leuven, Belgium

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  • Léon-Charles Tranchevent,

    Affiliations: Department of Electrical Engineering, ESAT-SCD, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium, SymBioSys, K.U.Leuven Center for Computational Systems Biology, Leuven, Belgium

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  • Leentje Van Lommel,

    Affiliations: Gene Expression Unit, Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium, SymBioSys, K.U.Leuven Center for Computational Systems Biology, Leuven, Belgium

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  • Kristof Engelen,

    Affiliations: Department of Microbial and Molecular Systems, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium, SymBioSys, K.U.Leuven Center for Computational Systems Biology, Leuven, Belgium

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  • Kathleen Marchal,

    Affiliations: Department of Microbial and Molecular Systems, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium, SymBioSys, K.U.Leuven Center for Computational Systems Biology, Leuven, Belgium

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  • Yves Moreau,

    Affiliations: Department of Electrical Engineering, ESAT-SCD, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium, SymBioSys, K.U.Leuven Center for Computational Systems Biology, Leuven, Belgium

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  • Iven Van Mechelen,

    Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium, SymBioSys, K.U.Leuven Center for Computational Systems Biology, Leuven, Belgium

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  • Frans Schuit mail

    frans.schuit@med.kuleuven.be

    Affiliations: Gene Expression Unit, Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium, SymBioSys, K.U.Leuven Center for Computational Systems Biology, Leuven, Belgium

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  • Published: March 26, 2008
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0001854

Reader Comments (1)

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maybe the true and only (=universal) control gene does simply not exist

Posted by m_ralser on 31 Mar 2008 at 15:57 GMT

I completely agree with the authors, that control genes e.g. for real time-PCR normalization should be choosen with caution.

However I would like to state that there might be not a single gene that is suitable as universal normalzation control. For example, a gene that is quite stable between selected tissues in vivo could be completely altered under stress conditions like hypoxia or oxidant treatments or differently expressed between cell lines - or altered in a different laboratory environment.
Promient examples are the glycolytic enzyme GAPDH or actin; there are a number of conditions kown where those change in expression; but they might represent suitable control genes in other cases.
Therefore, every researcher should test the stability of his control genes before his own first application in his own set-up ; and reviewers might ask for respective experiments more frequently.