Selection of a Real-Time PCR Housekeeping Gene Panel in Human Endothelial Colony Forming Cells for Cellular Senescence Studies

Kiran J. McLoughlin, Edoardo Pedrini, Meabh MacMahon, Jasenka Guduric-Fuchs, Reinhold J. Medina

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Endothelial Colony Forming Cells (ECFCs) represent a subset of endothelial progenitors with well-documented vasoreparative capacity. However, cellular senescence, which occurs due to aging, diabetes, smoking, or tissue inflammation, renders these cells dysfunctional. Therefore, there is growing interest in studying expression of senescence markers in ECFCs. RT-qPCR is the most commonly used technique to quantify gene expression and the proper choice of reference genes used for data normalization is critical for accurate quantification. It has been reported that the expression of commonly used housekeeping genes is often unstable in senescence. To identify the most suitable reference genes for ECFC senescence studies, we analyzed a microarray dataset, which compared the gene expression between proliferating and senescent ECFCs. In addition to replicative senescence, the data included X-ray-induced and Etoposide-induced senescence. We used the geNorm algorithm to identify the most stable genes across all studied conditions. Gene Ontology analysis found that the most stable genes belonged to the KEGG category of Genetic Information Processing. The optimal combination of housekeeping genes for ECFC senescence was found to include four ribosomal protein genes; RPL13, RPL31, RPL37, and RPL30. The RT-qPCR validation confirmed that normalization with our novel panel was more sensitive in identifying senescence markers compared to commonly used genes such as ACTB, UBC, and GAPDH.

Original languageEnglish
Article number33
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2019


  • housekeeping gene
  • ECFCs
  • Senescence
  • RT-qPCR
  • Computational Biology


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