Modified method for competitive reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction for rapid and automated quantitation of messenger RNA in multiple samples

Abhay Vats, Hajime Katayama, Youngki Kim, Michael Mauer, Alfred J. Fish, Ronald C. McGlennen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Competitive reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RTPCR) has been used increasingly to quantitate messenger RNA (mRNA) levels; however, conventional competitive RT-PCR methods require four or five reactions per sample of RNA, employing serial dilutions of an internal competitor sequence, making analysis of multiple samples a tedious process. A modified described by which multiple samples and multiple RNA transcripts can be analyzed easily by an automated process. Methods and Results: Transforming growth factor beta-1 (TGF-beta-1) mRNA was assayed in total RNA extracted from cultured human skin fibroblasts. A standard solution of total RNA was first prepared by pooling RNA from several cell lines and stored in aliquots. A 270-bp competitor RNA molecule (RNA mimic) was prepared by in vitro transcription and was added to each reaction. PCR was performed with a fluorescent dye (Hex; Applied Biosystems, Foster City, CA)labeled sense primer to amplify a 161-bp-long c DNA product of target TGF-beta1 mRNA sequence and the RNA mimic. The PCR products were analyzed with an automated laser-scanned gel electrophoresis system and the area under the curve (AUC) was used for quantisation. The concentration of TGF-beta-1 mRNA in standard RNA was determined by conventional competitive RT-PCR. Subsequently, equal amounts of RNA mimic were mixed with four serial dilutions of standard RNA and 0.1 u,g of sample total RNA for RT-PCR. A standard curve was generated using the known dilutions of a standard target RNA solution and ratio of AUC for target to that for mimic for each dilution. The unknown sample was then quantitated by interpolation of its area under the curve ratio on the standard curve. This method had inter- and intra-assay coefficients of variation of less than 10%. Conclusions: This modification is highly reproducible for quantitation of mRNA and significantly reduces the number of PCR reactions required for each assay. It can be used to assay several RNA molecules in a given sample by designing RNA mimics and PCR primers to generate PCR products of different lengths so that they can be analyzed by the laser scanning of a single lane of electrophoretic gel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-240
Number of pages6
JournalMolecular Diagnosis
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1997

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by a Young Investigator grant from the National Kidney Foundation of Upper Midwest, Viking Children's Fund, and NIH Grant DK 13083. Dr. Vats is a recipient of a fellowship award from the National Kidney Foundation. Reprint requests: Abhay Vats, MD, Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota, Box 491,420 Delaware Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455-0392. Copyright © 1997 by Churchill Livingstone o9 1084-8592/97/0204-000158.0010


  • Competitive rt-pcr
  • Fluorescent primers
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • mRNA quantitation


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