Meyer, Swanhild U.; Kaiser, Sebastian; Wagner, Carola; Thirion, Christian; Pfaffl, Michael W.
Profound effect of profiling platform and normalization strategy on detection of differentially expressed microRNAs. A comparative study.
In: PLOS ONE
Adequate normalization minimizes the effects of systematic technical variations and is a prerequisite for getting meaningful biological changes. However, there is inconsistency about miRNA normalization performances and recommendations. Thus, we investigated the impact of seven different normalization methods (reference gene index, global geometric mean, quantile, invariant selection, loess, loessM, and generalized procrustes analysis) on intra- and inter-platform performance of two distinct and commonly used miRNA profiling platforms. We included data from miRNA profiling analyses derived from a hybridization-based platform (Agilent Technologies) and an RT-qPCR platform (Applied Biosystems). Furthermore, we validated a subset of miRNAs by individual RT-qPCR assays. Our analyses incorporated data from the effect of differentiation and tumor necrosis factor alpha treatment on primary human skeletal muscle cells and a murine skeletal muscle cell line. Distinct normalization methods differed in their impact on (i) standard deviations, (ii) the area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve, (iii) the similarity of differential expression. Loess, loessM, and quantile analysis were most effective in minimizing standard deviations on the Agilent and TLDA platform. Moreover, loess, loessM, invariant selection and generalized procrustes analysis increased the area under the ROC curve, a measure for the statistical performance of a test. The Jaccard index revealed that inter-platform concordance of differential expression tended to be increased by loess, loessM, quantile, and GPA normalization of AGL and TLDA data as well as RGI normalization of TLDA data. We recommend the application of loess, or loessM, and GPA normalization for miRNA Agilent arrays and qPCR cards as these normalization approaches showed to (i) effectively reduce standard deviations, (ii) increase sensitivity and accuracy of differential miRNA expression detection as well as (iii) increase inter-platform concordance. Results showed the successful adoption of loessM and generalized procrustes analysis to one-color miRNA profiling experiments.