• qPCR;
  • normalization;
  • gene expression;
  • reference gene;
  • Rhodnius prolixus


Quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) has become one of the most used techniques to measure gene expression. However, normalization of gene expression data against reference genes is essential, although these are usually used without any kind of validation. The expression of seven genes was compared in organs of Rhodnius prolixus under diverse conditions, using published software to test gene expression stability. Rp18S and elongation factor 1 (RpEF -1) were the most reliable genes for normalization in qPCR when gene expression in different organs was compared. Moreover, both genes were found to be the best references when transcript levels were compared in the posterior midgut of insects infected with Trypanosoma cruzi. Rp18S was also the best reference gene in the fat bodies of unfed and fed insects. By contrast, RpEF-1 was found to be the best reference gene for comparison between posterior midguts, and RpMIP or RpActin should be used to compare gene expression in the ovaries. Although Rp18S is indicated here as the best reference in most cases, reports from the literature show that it is difficult to find an optimum reference gene. Nevertheless, validation of candidate genes to be taken as references is important when new experimental conditions are tested to avoid incorrect data interpretation.