Reference genes for RT-qPCR normalisation in different tissues, developmental stages and stress conditions of Hypericum perforatum
Hypericum perforatum is a widely known medicinal herb used mostly as a remedy for depression because of its abundant secondary metabolites. Quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) is an optimized method for the efficient and reliable quantification of gene expression studies. In general, reference genes are used in qRT-PCR analysis because of their known or suspected housekeeping roles. However, their expression level cannot be assumed to remain stable under all possible experimental conditions. Thus, the identification of high quality reference genes is very necessary for the interpretation of qRT-PCR data. In this study, we investigated the expression of fourteen candidate genes, including nine housekeeping genes and five potential candidate genes. Additionally, the HpHYP1 gene, belonging to the PR-10 family associated with stress control, was used for validation of the candidate reference genes. Three programs were applied to evaluate the gene expression stability across four different plant tissues, three developmental stages and a set of abiotic stress and hormonal treatments. The candidate genes showed a wide range of Ct values in all samples, indicating that they are differentially expressed. Integrating all of the algorithms and evaluations, ACT2 and TUB-ß were the most stable combination overall and for different developmental stages samples. Moreover, ACT2 and EF1-a were considered to be the two most applicable reference genes for different tissues and for stress samples. Majority of the conventional housekeeping genes exhibited better than the potential reference genes. The obtained results will contribute to improving credibility of standardization and quantification of transcription levels in future expression research of H. perforatum.