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In situ hybridization technique to localize rRNA and mRNA in mammalian neurons
Abstract and Figures
In situ hybridization provides a method for identifying cells that contain specific nucleic acid sequences. This report outlines an in situ hybridization procedure for mammalian neural tissue. The method maintains morphological quality and produces excellent specificity. Seven tritiated nucleic acid probes were examined: two ribosomal RNA probes, a control pBR322 plasmid probe, two probes encoding portions of the gene for oxytocin, one probe each encoding a portion of vasopressin glycoprotein, and neurophysin. Using cryostat-cut rat brain sections, rRNA probes labeled the cytoplasm of all cells and the nucleoli of larger neurons. The plasmid probe failed to produce a strong signal. Oxytocin and vasopressin probes appropriately labeled the cytoplasm of hypothalamic magnocellular neurons. Vasopressin parvocellular neurons were not identified by the current method, and the shorter length neurophysin probe failed to produce a signal. Methodological variables were examined by counting autoradiographic grains in cells. The longer oxytocin probe produced a stronger signal than the shorter oxytocin and vasopressin probes, and higher probe concentrations resulted in stronger signal. Hybridization could be abolished by tissue pretreatment with RNAse A, and longer exposure time increased signal strength. The outlined fixation steps with fresh-frozen tissue produced a superior signal compared to paraformaldehyde-perfused tissue.
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