Maintaining RNA Integrity for Transcriptomic Profiling of Ex Vivo Cultured Limbal Epithelial Stem Cells after Fluorescence-Activated Cell Sorting (FACS)

Posted on 2017-12-12 - 05:00
Abstract Background Transcriptomic profiling of ex vivo cultured human limbal epithelial stem cells (hLESCs) will foster better understanding of corneal physiology and novel treatment paradigms to limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD). However, currently such profiling studies are hampered due to difficulties with producing sufficient amounts of intact mRNA for deep RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) from subpopulations sorted on the basis of co-expression of membrane and intracellular antigens by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). Methods To address this problem, we systematically analyzed the critical steps, and found that ethanol fixation together with optimized downstream procedures provided a pipeline that yielded high quality total RNA in amounts to readily support the RNA-seq procedure, while still preserving good discrimination between the individual hLESC immunophenotypes. Results The average RNA integrity number (RIN) was 7.7 ± 0.4, and the average yield was 4.6 ± 1.7 pg of RNA per cell. The sequencing analysis of the isolated RNA produced high quality data with more than 70% of read pairs mapping uniformly to the reference genome and 80% of bases with a Phred score of at least 30. Conclusion In this study, we developed a reliable FACS-based procedure using ethanol as a fixative that would support accurate isolation of limbal epithelial progenitor subpopulations along with RNA yield and quality sufficient to enable deep transcriptomic profiling.


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