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Histochem J. 2000 Feb;32(2):99-103.

Rapid and sensitive detection of enhanced green fluorescent protein expression in paraffin sections by confocal laser scanning microscopy.

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  • 1Institute of Histology and Embryology, University of Veterinary Sciences, Vienna, Austria.


Various forms of green fluorescent protein (GFP) have become important reporters of gene transfer and expression after transfection or infection of cells in cell culture. Frequently, molecular biological assays (Northern blots, PCR) are applied to detect reporter gene expression in target organs. However, these methods are not suitable for evaluation of tissue- or cell-specific expression which would be of great interest especially in case of using tissue-specific promoters. Therefore, organs of transgenic mice with the enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) gene under control of the cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter were processed for histology by formaldehyde fixation and embedding in paraffin. Sections were deparaffinized, mounted and evaluated for fluorescence in a confocal laser scanning microscope. This method combines the advantages of direct exploitation of tissue sections without further staining procedures with evaluable tissue-, cell-, and even subcellular-specific distribution patterns of EGFP expression in tissues. Results obtained by direct evaluation of EGFP fluorescence in paraffin sections were confirmed by immunohistochemical staining with anti-EGFP. In the present report, we demonstrate that application of confocal microscopy on routinely processed histological preparations is very suitable for determining gene transfer efficiency and promotor activities.

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