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MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small endogenous non-coding interfering RNA molecules regarded as major regulators in eukaryotic gene expression. Different methods are employed for miRNA expression profiling. For a better understanding of their role in essential biological processes, convenient methods for differential miRNA expression analysis are required.
Here, we present the miR-Q assay as a highly sensitive quantitative reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR) for expression analysis of small RNAs such as miRNA molecules. It shows a high dynamic range of 6 to 8 orders of magnitude comprising a sensitivity of up to 0.2 fM miRNA, which corresponds to single copies per cell. There is nearly no cross reaction among closely-related miRNA family members, which points to the high specificity of the assays. Using this approach, we quantified the expression of let-7b in different human cell lines as well as miR-145 and miR-21 expression in porcine intestinal samples.
miR-Q is a cost-effective and highly specific approach, which neither requires the use of fluorochromic probes, nor Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA)-modified oligonucleotides. Moreover, it provides a remarkable increase in specificity and simplified detection of small RNAs.