Real-Time Quantitative RT-PCR Assays

  • Ivan Martin
  • Oliver Frank
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology™ book series (MIMB, volume 238)


Analysis of gene expression at the mRNA level may be used, together with other structural and functional evaluations, to characterize the quality of engineered tissues. In turn, engineered tissues may be used as model systems of developing tissues to investigate how mRNA gene expression is modulated by a variety of factors, including structural (e.g., type of three-dimensional [3D] scaffold), biochemical (e.g., combination of bioactive molecules), and physical (e.g., regime of bioreactor cultivation). In order to reliably evaluate mRNA levels, Northern blotting and in situ hybridization (ISH) methods are not sensitive enough to detect low-level gene expression, and not accurate enough to quantify the full range of expression. An amplification step is thus often required to quantify mRNA amounts from engineered tissues of limited size. Quantification of mRNA using conventional reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) techniques may be of limited accuracy, both because of the detection method used (e.g., semi-quantitative image analysis), and because analysis is often performed using a constant number of amplification cycles, after which the system could be in a saturation phase. The recently established real-time RT-PCR technology has made mRNA quantitation more reproducible, precise, and sensitive than conventional RT-PCR, because it allows measurement of the amount of amplified product using a quantitative laser-based method and in the early exponential phase of the PCR reaction, when none of the reagents is rate-limiting (1).


Housekeeping Gene Engineer Tissue Bioreactor Cultivation mRNA Gene Expression Early Exponential Phase 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 1.
    Gibson, U. E., Heid, C. A., and Williams, P.M. (1996) A novel method for real time quantitative RT-PCR. Genome Res. 6, 995–1001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Martin, I., Jakob, M., Schafer, D., Dick, W., Spagnoli, G., and Heberer, M. (2001) Quantitative analysis of gene expression in human articular cartilage from normal and osteoarthritic joints. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 9, 112–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Jakob, M., Démarteau, O., Schäfer, D., Hintermann, B., Dick, W., and Martin, I. (2001) Specific growth factors during the expansion and redifferentiation of adult human articular chondrocytes enhance chondrogenesis and cartilaginous tissue formation in vitro. J. Cell. Biochem. 81, 368–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Frank, O., Heim, M., Jakob, M., et al. (2002) Real-time quantitative RT-PCR analysis of human bone marrow stromal cells during osteogenic differentiation in vitro. J. Cell Biochem. 85, 737–746.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bustin, S. A. (2000) Absolute quantification of mRNA using real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction assays. J. Mol. Endocrinol. 25, 169–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ivan Martin
    • 1
  • Oliver Frank
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Division of the Department of SurgeryUniversity HospitalBaselSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations