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      Gene expression profiling of whole blood: Comparison of target preparation methods for accurate and reproducible microarray analysis

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          Abstract

          Background

          Peripheral blood is an accessible and informative source of transcriptomal information for many human disease and pharmacogenomic studies. While there can be significant advantages to analyzing RNA isolated from whole blood, particularly in clinical studies, the preparation of samples for microarray analysis is complicated by the need to minimize artifacts associated with highly abundant globin RNA transcripts. The impact of globin RNA transcripts on expression profiling data can potentially be reduced by using RNA preparation and labeling methods that remove or block globin RNA during the microarray assay. We compared four different methods for preparing microarray hybridization targets from human whole blood collected in PAXGene tubes. Three of the methods utilized the Affymetrix one-cycle cDNA synthesis/in vitro transcription protocol but varied treatment of input RNA as follows: i. no treatment; ii. treatment with GLOBINclear; or iii. treatment with globin PNA oligos. In the fourth method cDNA targets were prepared with the Ovation amplification and labeling system.

          Results

          We find that microarray targets generated with labeling methods that reduce globin mRNA levels or minimize the impact of globin transcripts during hybridization detect more transcripts in the microarray assay compared with the standard Affymetrix method. Comparison of microarray results with quantitative PCR analysis of a panel of genes from the NF-kappa B pathway shows good correlation of transcript measurements produced with all four target preparation methods, although method-specific differences in overall correlation were observed. The impact of freezing blood collected in PAXGene tubes on data reproducibility was also examined. Expression profiles show little or no difference when RNA is extracted from either fresh or frozen blood samples.

          Conclusion

          RNA preparation and labeling methods designed to reduce the impact of globin mRNA transcripts can significantly improve the sensitivity of the DNA microarray expression profiling assay for whole blood samples. While blockage of globin transcripts during first strand cDNA synthesis with globin PNAs resulted in the best overall performance in this study, we conclude that selection of a protocol for expression profiling studies in blood should depend on several factors, including implementation requirements of the method and study design. RNA isolated from either freshly collected or frozen blood samples stored in PAXGene tubes can be used without altering gene expression profiles.

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          Most cited references 17

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          Robust estimators for expression analysis.

          We consider the problem of estimating values associated with gene expression from oligonucleotide arrays. Such estimates should linearly track concentration, yield non-negative results, have statistical guarantees of robustness against outliers, and allow estimates of significance and variance. A hierarchy of simple models is used to design robust estimators meeting these goals for both stand alone and comparative experiments. This algorithm has been validated against an extensive panel of known spike experiments, and shows comparable performance to existing standards.
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            Analysis of high density expression microarrays with signed-rank call algorithms.

             X Di,  E Hubbell,  S Dee (2002)
            We consider the detection of expressed genes and the comparison of them in different experiments with the high-density oligonucleotide microarrays. The results are summarized as the detection calls and comparison calls, and they should be robust against data outliers over a wide target concentration range. It is also helpful to provide parameters that can be adjusted by the user to balance specificity and sensitivity under various experimental conditions. We present rank-based algorithms for making detection and comparison calls on expression microarrays. The detection call algorithm utilizes the discrimination scores. The comparison call algorithm utilizes intensity differences. Both algorithms are based on Wilcoxon's signed-rank test. Several parameters in the algorithms can be adjusted by the user to alter levels of specificity and sensitivity. The algorithms were developed and analyzed using spiked-in genes arrayed in a Latin square format. In the call process, p-values are calculated to give a confidence level for the pertinent hypotheses. For comparison calls made between two arrays, two primary normalization factors are defined. To overcome the difficulty that constant normalization factors do not fit all probe sets, we perturb these primary normalization factors and make increasing or decreasing calls only if all resulting p-values fall within a defined critical region. Our algorithms also automatically handle scanner saturation.
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              Summaries of affymetrix GeneChip probe level data

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                BMC Genomics
                BMC Genomics
                BioMed Central
                1471-2164
                2009
                5 January 2009
                : 10
                : 2
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Gene Microarray Shared Resource, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA
                [2 ]Casey Eye Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA
                [3 ]Department of Cell & Developmental Biology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA
                [4 ]Department of Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA
                [5 ]Department of Public Health & Preventive Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA
                [6 ]Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA
                Article
                1471-2164-10-2
                10.1186/1471-2164-10-2
                2649161
                19123946
                Copyright © 2009 Vartanian et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Methodology Article

                Genetics

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