Evaluation of quantitative microRNA gene expression platforms in the microRNA Quality Control (miRQC) study

Pieter Mestdagh1, Toumy Gettouche2, Thomas Peters3, Nicole Hartmann3, Jo Vandesompele1
1Ghent University / Biogazelle, Belgium; 2University of Miami, Florida, USA; 3Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Novartis, Basel, Switzerland


MicroRNAs are important negative regulators of protein coding gene expression, and have been studied intensively over the last few years. To this purpose, different measurement platforms to determine their RNA abundance levels in biological samples have been developed. In this study, we have systematically compared 12 commercially available microRNA expression platforms by measuring an identical set of 23 standardized positive and negative control samples, including human universal reference RNA, human brain RNA and titrations thereof, human serum samples, and synthetic spikes from homologous microRNA family members. We developed novel quality metrics in order to objectively assess platform performance of very different technologies such as small RNA sequencing, RT-qPCR and (microarray) hybridization. We assessed reproducibility, sensitivity, quantitative performance, and specificity. The results indicate that each method has its strengths and weaknesses, which helps guiding informed selection of a quantitative microRNA gene expression platform in function of particular study goals.
[abstract presented on behalf of the miRQC consortium]

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