Developmental changes in rat cardiac DNA, RNA and protein tissue base: implications for the interpretation of changes in gene expression

J Mol Cell Cardiol. 1997 Feb;29(2):629-39. doi: 10.1006/jmcc.1996.0306.


During cardiac development the expression levels of many genes change as determined by Northern blot, dot blot, RNase protection, quantitative RT-PCR. Western blot or immunoprecipitation analyses. It is not always realized that the total amount of RNA or protein per gram of heart, dubbed tissue base, may change significantly during development as well. If this would be the case, this has to be taken into account. So far, the (changing) tissue base has not been established during cardiac development. To this end developmental profiles of cardiac DNA, RNA and protein concentration were determined in rats ranging in age from embryonic day 13 until neonatal day 121. The profiles show significant development changes in each parameter, that closely match the distinct growth phases of the developing heart and provide the parameters that are essential for an adequate interpretation of changes in the amount of a distinct mRNA and/or protein. In a comparison between in situ hybridization and Northern blot analysis it is demonstrated that the same developmental profile leads to an almost opposite conclusion depending on whether or not the changing tissue base is taken into account. These findings are of great interest for studies aimed at unravelling the molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of gene expression during cardiac development.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Calcium-Transporting ATPases / genetics
  • Calcium-Transporting ATPases / metabolism
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Heart / growth & development*
  • Heart Atria / chemistry
  • Heart Atria / metabolism
  • Heart Ventricles / chemistry
  • Heart Ventricles / metabolism
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Male
  • Myocardium / chemistry
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • Organ Size
  • Pregnancy
  • Proteins / genetics*
  • RNA / genetics
  • RNA / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sarcoplasmic Reticulum / enzymology


  • Proteins
  • RNA
  • DNA
  • Calcium-Transporting ATPases