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Effect of Embryonic Genotype on Reference Gene Selection for RT-qPCR Normalization


Author’s address (for correspondence): José Salvador Vicente Antón, Laboratorio de Biotecnología de la Reproducción, Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología Animal (ICTA), Camino de Vera s/n, CP. 46022, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (UPV), Valencia, Spain. E-mail:


To obtain more reliable results with biological significance, it requires data normalization using an appropriate internal control gene. In rabbits, there are classic stable reference genes that have been identified for normalization in oocytes and pre-implantation stage embryos. However, effects of embryonic genotype on reference gene selection have not been elucidated. The aim of this study was to test (i) the stability of mRNA transcription level for histone (H2afz) and glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) genes in rabbit blastocysts from two lines selected by different criteria (litter size and post-weaning daily weight gain) and (ii) its influence on biological significance examined by means of a set of embryonic transcripts, such as POU5F1 (Oct-4), epidermal growth factor receptor (erbB3), transforming growth factor-beta2, vascular endothelial growth factor and gamma interferon (Ifn-gamma). The geNorm, NormFinder and BestKeeper programs showed similar results, pointing out that H2afz and GAPDH were the most stable reference genes in rabbits selected on litter size at weaning. Moreover, our study revealed that embryonic genotype affected target gene expression when a single reference gene was used to analyse mRNA expression in blastocysts. Results showed that GAPDH gene is better than H2afz for gene expression studies of both embryo genotypes. A normalization factor derived from H2afz and GAPDH is likely to be appropriate when RT-qPCR was performed in rabbit embryos with different genotypes.