Objective: RNA interference is employed extensively in Drosophila research to study gene function within a specific cell-type or tissue. Thousands of transgenic Drosophila lines have been generated to express double stranded RNA for gene knockdown; however, no standardized method exists for quantifying their knockdown efficiency. Since antibodies are not available for many proteins, quantitative real-time PCR is often used. Here, we explore how primer design and RNA isolation method can influence detection of gene knockdown using qPCR. Results: We tested differences in detected gene knockdown efficiency when using purified polyadenylated mRNA or total RNA as templates for cDNA synthesis. We also tested two different primer locations for each gene: one to amplify a region 5′ of the RNAi cut site, and one to amplify a region 3′ of the cut site. Consistently, the strongest gene knockdown was detected when qPCR was performed using 5′ primer sets in combination with mRNA-derived cDNA. Our results indicate that detection of undegraded mRNA cleavage fragments can result in underestimation of true knockdown efficiency for a RNAi construct. Purification of polyadenylated mRNA, combined with primers designed to amplify the non-polyadenylated 5′ mRNA cleavage fragment can avoid this problem.
Mainland, R. L., Lyons, T. A., Ruth, M. M., & Kramer, J. M. (2017). Optimal RNA isolation method and primer design to detect gene knockdown by qPCR when validating Drosophila transgenic RNAi lines. BMC Research Notes, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13104-017-2959-0