Selection and Validation of Reference Genes for Pan-Cancer in Platelets Based on RNA-Sequence Data

Front Genet. 2022 Jun 13;13:913886. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2022.913886. eCollection 2022.


Many studies in recent years have demonstrated that some messenger RNA (mRNA) in platelets can be used as biomarkers for the diagnosis of pan-cancer. The quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) molecular technique is most commonly used to determine mRNA expression changes in platelets. Accurate and reliable relative RT-qPCR is highly dependent on reliable reference genes. However, there is no study to validate the reference gene in platelets for pan-cancer. Given that the expression of some commonly used reference genes is altered in certain conditions, selecting and verifying the most suitable reference gene for pan-cancer in platelets is necessary to diagnose early stage cancer. This study performed bioinformatics and functional analysis from the RNA-seq of platelets data set (GSE68086). We generated 95 candidate reference genes after the primary bioinformatics step. Seven reference genes (YWHAZ, GNAS, GAPDH, OAZ1, PTMA, B2M, and ACTB) were screened out among the 95 candidate reference genes from the data set of the platelets' transcriptome of pan-cancer and 73 commonly known reference genes. These candidate reference genes were verified by another platelets expression data set (GSE89843). Then, we used RT-qPCR to confirm the expression levels of these seven genes in pan-cancer patients and healthy individuals. These RT-qPCR results were analyzed using the internal stability analysis software programs (the comparative Delta CT method, geNorm, NormFinder, and BestKeeper) to rank the candidate genes in the order of decreasing stability. By contrast, the GAPDH gene was stably and constitutively expressed at high levels in all the tested samples. Therefore, GAPDH was recommended as the most suitable reference gene for platelet transcript analysis. In conclusion, our result may play an essential part in establishing a molecular diagnostic platform based on the platelets to diagnose pan-cancer.

Keywords: normalization; pan-cancer; platelets; quantitative real time polymerase chain reaction; reference genes.