- Richardson GM, Lannigan J, Macara IG. Does FACS perturb gene expression? Cytometry. Part A : the journal of the International Society for Analytical Cytology. 2015 Feb;87(2). 166-75. PMID: 25598345 [PubMed].
Fluorescence activated cell sorting is the technique most commonly used to separate primary mammary epithelial sub-populations. Many studies incorporate this technique before analyzing gene expression within specific cellular lineages. However, to our knowledge, no one has examined the effects of fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) separation on short-term transcriptional profiles. In this study, we isolated a heterogeneous mixture of cells from the mouse mammary gland. To determine the effects of the isolation and separation process on gene expression, we harvested RNA from the cells before enzymatic digestion, following enzymatic digestion, and following a mock FACS sort where the entire cohort of cells was retained. A strict protocol was followed to minimize disruption to the cells, and to ensure that no subpopulations were enriched or lost. Microarray analysis demonstrated that FACS causes minimal disruptions to gene expression patterns, but prior steps in the mammary cell isolation process are followed by upregulation of 18 miRNA's and rapid decreases in their predicted target transcripts. © 2015 International Society for Advancement of Cytometry.