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RNA-seq has emerged as an important technology for measuring gene expression in peripheral blood samples collected from humans and other vertebrate species. In particular, transcriptomics analyses of whole blood can be used to study immunobiology and develop novel biomarkers of infectious disease. However, an obstacle to these methods in many mammalian species is the presence of reticulocyte-derived globin mRNAs in large quantities, which can complicate RNA-seq library sequencing and impede detection of other mRNA transcripts. A range of supplementary procedures for targeted depletion of globin transcripts have, therefore, been developed to alleviate this problem. Here, we use comparative analyses of RNA-seq data sets generated from human, porcine, equine, and bovine peripheral blood to systematically assess the impact of globin mRNA on routine transcriptome profiling of whole blood in cattle and horses. The results of these analyses demonstrate that total RNA isolated from equine and bovine peripheral blood contains very low levels of globin mRNA transcripts, thereby negating the need for globin depletion and greatly simplifying blood-based transcriptomic studies in these two domestic species.

Original publication




Journal article


Front Genet

Publication Date





RNA-seq, blood, cattle, globin, horses, pigs, reticulocyte, transcriptome