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J Histochem Cytochem. 1997 Mar;45(3):345-57.

The ELF-97 alkaline phosphatase substrate provides a bright, photostable, fluorescent signal amplification method for FISH.

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  • 1Molecular Probes, Inc., Eugene, OR 97402, USA.


We used the ELF-97 (Enzyme-Labeled Fluorescence) phosphatase substrate, 2-(5'-chloro-2-phosphoryloxyphenyl)-6-chloro-4(3H)-quinazolinone, with alkaline phosphatase conjugates of streptavidin and appropriate antibodies to amplify signals from biotinylated and haptenylated hybridization probes. The dephosphorylated product, ELF-97 alcohol, is a bright yellow-green fluorescent precipitate optimally excited at approximately 360 nm, with emission centered at approximately 530 nm. This large Stokes shift allows ELF-97 signals to be easily distinguished from sample autofluorescence and signals arising from counterstains or other fluorophores. The ELF-97 precipitate was extremely photostable compared to fluorescein, allowing multiple photographic exposures of samples without significant signal intensity loss. For RNA in situ hybridization, labeling was specific and localized well to targets in cultured cells, tissue sections, and whole-mount zebrafish embryos. ELF-97 signals developed in seconds to minutes and were easily distinguished from pigmented tissues or cells, unlike those obtained using colorimetric substrates. We used the substrate with singly biotinylated short oligonucleotides to detect actin mRNA in MDCK cells and actin and beta-galactosidase mRNA in LacZ+ mouse fibroblasts. We also used a biotinylated cDNA, complementary to the mRNA encoded by the constant region of the T-cell receptor beta-chain, to specifically identify T-cells in mouse lymph node tissue sections. With digoxigenin-labeled probes, we detected several developmentally expressed mRNAs in whole-mount zebrafish embryos. Hybridization to centromere repeat regions in human metaphase and interphase chromosomes was also detected; ELF-97 signals were manyfold brighter than signals obtained with fluorescein conjugates. Finally, Southern blot hybridization using singly labeled oligonucleotide probes yielded a sensitivity similar to that obtained with radioactivity.

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