Simultaneous profiling of 194 distinct receptor transcripts in human cells

Sci Signal. 2013 Aug 6;6(287):rs13. doi: 10.1126/scisignal.2003624.


Many signal transduction cascades are initiated by transmembrane receptors with the presence or absence and abundance of receptors dictating cellular responsiveness. We provide a validated array of quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) reagents for high-throughput profiling of the presence and relative abundance of transcripts for 194 transmembrane receptors in the human genome. We found that the qRT-PCR array had greater sensitivity and specificity for the detected receptor transcript profiles compared to conventional oligonucleotide microarrays or exon microarrays. The qRT-PCR array also distinguished functional receptor presence versus absence more accurately than deep sequencing of adenylated RNA species by RNA sequencing (RNA-seq). By applying qRT-PCR-based receptor transcript profiling to 40 human cell lines representing four main tissues (pancreas, skin, breast, and colon), we identified clusters of cell lines with enhanced signaling capabilities and revealed a role for receptor silencing in defining tissue lineage. Ectopic expression of the interleukin-10 (IL-10) receptor-encoding gene IL10RA in melanoma cells engaged an IL-10 autocrine loop not otherwise present in this cell type, which altered signaling, gene expression, and cellular responses to proinflammatory stimuli. Our array provides a rapid, inexpensive, and convenient means for assigning a receptor signature to any human cell or tissue type.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Humans
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis / methods
  • Organ Specificity / physiology
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / biosynthesis*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA / methods
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Cell Surface