BMC Genomics 2015, null:476

Gene expression analysis of skin grafts and cultured keratinocytes using synthetic RNA normalization reveals insights into differentiation and growth control

Shintaro Katayama, Tiina Skoog, Eeva-Mari Jouhilahti, H. Siitonen, Kristo Nuutila, Mari Tervaniemi, Jyrki Vuola, Anna Johnsson, Peter Lönnerberg, Sten Linnarsson, Outi Elomaa, Esko Kankuri, Juha Kere.
Background: Keratinocytes (KCs) are the most frequent cells in the epidermis, and they are often isolated and cultured in vitro to study the molecular biology of the skin. Cultured primary cells and various immortalized cells have been frequently used as skin models but their comparability to intact skin has been questioned. Moreover, when analyzing KC transcriptomes, fluctuation of polyA+ RNA content during the KCs’ lifecycle has been omitted. Results: We performed STRT RNA sequencing on 10 ng samples of total RNA from three different sample types: i) epidermal tissue (split-thickness skin grafts), ii) cultured primary KCs, and iii) HaCaT cell line. We observed significant variation in cellular polyA+ RNA content between tissue and cell culture samples of KCs. The use of synthetic RNAs and SAMstrt in normalization enabled comparison of gene expression levels in the highly heterogenous samples and facilitated discovery of differences between the tissue samples and cultured cells. The transcriptome analysis sensitively revealed genes involved in KC differentiation in skin grafts and cell cycle regulation related genes in cultured KCs and emphasized the fluctuation of transcription factors and non-coding RNAs associated to sample types. Conclusions: The epidermal keratinocytes derived from tissue and cell culture samples showed highly different polyA+ RNA contents. The use of SAMstrt and synthetic RNA based normalization allowed the comparison between tissue and cell culture samples and thus proved to be valuable tools for RNA-seq analysis with translational approach. Transciptomics revealed clear difference both between tissue and cell culture samples and between primary KCs and immortalized HaCaT cells.