An analytically and diagnostically sensitive RNA extraction and RT-qPCR protocol for peripheral blood mononuclear cells

Browne, Daniel J., Brady, Jamie L., Van Waardenberg, Ashley J., Loiseau, Claire, and Doolan, Denise L. (2020) An analytically and diagnostically sensitive RNA extraction and RT-qPCR protocol for peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Frontiers in Immunology, 11. 402.

PDF (Published version) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (14MB) | Preview
View at Publisher Website:


Reliable extraction and sensitive detection of RNA from human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) is critical for a broad spectrum of immunology research and clinical diagnostics. RNA analysis platforms are dependent upon high-quality and high-quantity RNA; however, sensitive detection of specific responses associated with high-quality RNA extractions from human samples with limited PBMCs can be challenging. Furthermore, the comparative sensitivity between RNA quantification and best-practice protein quantification is poorly defined. Therefore, we provide herein a critical evaluation of the wide variety of current generation of RNA-based kits for PBMCs, representative of several strategies designed to maximize sensitivity. We assess these kits with a reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) assay optimized for both analytically and diagnostically sensitive cell-based RNA-based applications. Specifically, three RNA extraction kits, one post-extraction RNA purification/concentration kit, four SYBR master-mix kits, and four reverse transcription kits were tested. RNA extraction and RT-qPCR reaction efficiency were evaluated with commonly used reference and cytokine genes. Significant variation in RNA expression of reference genes was apparent, and absolute quantification based on cell number was established as an effective RT-qPCR normalization strategy. We defined an optimized RNA extraction and RT-qPCR protocol with an analytical sensitivity capable of single cell RNA detection. The diagnostic sensitivity of this assay was sufficient to show a CD8+ T cell peptide epitope hierarchy with as few as 1 × 104 cells. Finally, we compared our optimized RNA extraction and RT-qPCR protocol with current best-practice immune assays and demonstrated that our assay is a sensitive alternative to protein-based assays for peptide-specific responses, especially with limited PBMCs number. This protocol with high analytical and diagnostic sensitivity has broad applicability for both primary research and clinical practice.

Item ID: 62746
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1664-3224
Keywords: PBMC, RNA, RT-qPCR, extraction, analytical-sensitivity, diagnostic-sensitivity
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2020 Browne, Brady, Waardenberg, Loiseau and Doolan. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY).
Funders: National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
Projects and Grants: NHMRC project grant 1069466, NHMRC principal fellowship 1137285
Date Deposited: 19 May 2020 07:07
FoR Codes: 32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3204 Immunology > 320404 Cellular immunology @ 50%
32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3204 Immunology > 320402 Applied immunology (incl. antibody engineering, xenotransplantation and t-cell therapies) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9201 Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions) > 920109 Infectious Diseases @ 100%
Downloads: Total: 772
Last 12 Months: 50
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page