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J Neurosci Methods. 2009 May 15;179(2):159-65. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2009.01.022. Epub 2009 Feb 4.

Signal intensities of radiolabeled cRNA probes used alone or in combination with non-isotopic in situ hybridization histochemistry.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience & Experimental Therapeutics, College of Medicine, 262 Reynolds Medical Building, Texas A&M University System, Health Sciences Center, College Station, TX 77843-1114, USA.


This study addressed the question of whether radioactive hybridization signal intensities are reduced in combined isotopic and non-isotopic double in situ hybridization (DISH) compared with those in single in situ hybridization (ISH). Non-isotopic digoxigenin (Dig)-labeled hybrids were detected using an alkaline phosphatase (AP) enzymatic reaction which results in nitroblue tetrazolium chloride (NBT)/5-bromo-4-chloro-3-indolyl phosphate (BCIP)-salt precipitation that could shield S35-radiation from penetrating to the surface. Sections were plastic coated of with 2% parlodion to prevent a chemical reaction between AP and developer during processing of the photosensitive emulsion, which could further reduce radioactive hybridization signal detection by autoradiography. We used DISH with a hybridization cocktail of radioactive S35- and Dig-labeled GAD67 cRNA probes. In order to avoid competition for the same complementary sequence, the probes were directed towards different sequences of the glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD67) mRNA, resulting in co-detection of isotopic and non-isotopic hybrids in close to 100% of GAD67 positive cells. Quantitation of autoradiograms showed that there was no reduction of autoradiographic signal intensity from S35-labeled hybrids in the presence of Dig-labeled hybrids. Plastic coating of single or dual hybridized sections did not reduce the radioactive signal intensity. When mRNAs for nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subunits were detected with subunit specific S35-labeled cRNA probes in GAD67 hippocampal interneurons the total numbers of nAChR subunit expressing cells remained the same in single or double hybridized sections even for low abundant mRNAs. Together, these results indicate that combined radioactive and non-radioactive DISH does not interfere with the detection of the radiation signal from the S35-labeled hybrids, and neither specificity nor sensitivity is compromised.

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