Accurate and statistically verified quantification of relative mRNA abundances using SYBR Green I and real-time RT-PCR

J Immunol Methods. 2003 Dec;283(1-2):291-306. doi: 10.1016/s0022-1759(03)00103-0.


Among the many methods currently available for quantifying mRNA transcript abundance, reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) has proved to be the most sensitive. Recently, several protocols for real-time relative RT-PCR using the reporter dye SYBR Green I have appeared in the literature. In these methods, sample and control mRNA abundance is quantified relative to an internal reference RNA whose abundance is known not to change under the differing experimental conditions. We have developed new data analysis procedures for the two most promising of these methodologies and generated data appropriate to assess both the accuracy and precision of the two protocols. We demonstrate that while both methods produce results that are precise when 18S rRNA is used as an internal reference, only one of these methods produces consistently accurate results. We have used this latter system to show that mRNA abundances can be accurately measured and strongly correlate with cell surface protein and carbohydrate expression as assessed by flow cytometry under different conditions of B cell activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Mathematics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Organic Chemicals*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*


  • Organic Chemicals
  • RNA, Messenger
  • SYBR Green I