Research Papers:

This article has been corrected. Correction in: Oncotarget. 2018; 9:35872.

Lyophilized human cells stored at room temperature preserve multiple RNA species at excellent quality for RNA sequencing

Lilla Ozgyin, Attila Horvath and Balint Laszlo Balint _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:31312-31329. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.25764

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Lilla Ozgyin1, Attila Horvath1,2 and Balint Laszlo Balint1

1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Genomic Medicine and Bioinformatic Core Facility, Faculty of Medicine, University of Debrecen, Debrecen H-4012, Hungary

2Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Nuclear Hormone Receptor Research Laboratory, Faculty of Medicine, University of Debrecen, Debrecen H-4012, Hungary

Correspondence to:

Balint Laszlo Balint, email: [email protected]

Keywords: lyophilization; freeze-drying; RNA-seq; biomarker; sustainable biobanking

Received: November 30, 2017     Accepted: June 22, 2018     Published: July 31, 2018


Biobanks operating at ambient temperatures would dramatically reduce the costs associated with standard cryogenic storage. In the present study, we used lyophilization to stabilize unfractionated human cells in a dried state at room temperature and tested the yield and integrity of the isolated RNA by microfluidic electrophoresis, RT-qPCR and RNA sequencing. RNA yields and integrity measures were not reduced for lyophilized cells (unstored, stored for two weeks or stored for two months) compared to their paired controls. The abundance of the selected mRNAs with various expression levels, as well as enhancer-associated RNAs and cancer biomarker long non-coding RNAs (MALAT1, GAS5 and TUG1), were not significantly different between the two groups as assessed by RT-qPCR. RNA sequencing data of three lyophilized samples stored for two weeks at room temperature revealed a high degree of similarity with their paired controls in terms of the RNA biotype distribution, cumulative gene diversity, gene body read coverage and per base mismatch rate. Among the 28 differentially expressed genes transcriptional regulators, as well as certain transcript properties suggestive of a residual active decay mechanism were enriched. Our study suggests that freeze-drying of human cells is a suitable alternative for the long-term stabilization of total RNA in whole human cells for routine diagnostics and high-throughput biomedical research.

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