The spatial RNA integrity number assay for in situ evaluation of transcriptome quality

Commun Biol. 2021 Jan 8;4(1):57. doi: 10.1038/s42003-020-01573-1.


The RNA integrity number (RIN) is a frequently used quality metric to assess the completeness of rRNA, as a proxy for the corresponding mRNA in a tissue. Current methods operate at bulk resolution and provide a single average estimate for the whole sample. Spatial transcriptomics technologies have emerged and shown their value by placing gene expression into a tissue context, resulting in transcriptional information from all tissue regions. Thus, the ability to estimate RNA quality in situ has become of utmost importance to overcome the limitation with a bulk rRNA measurement. Here we show a new tool, the spatial RNA integrity number (sRIN) assay, to assess the rRNA completeness in a tissue wide manner at cellular resolution. We demonstrate the use of sRIN to identify spatial variation in tissue quality prior to more comprehensive spatial transcriptomics workflows.