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J Immunol Methods. 1992 Aug 30;153(1-2):249-59.

Immunoglobulin VH usage analysis by fluorescent in situ hybridization and flow cytometry.

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  • 1Molecular and Cellular Biology Program, University of Massachusetts, Amherst 01003.


We have devised a flow cytometry-based fluorescent in situ hybridization assay that permits analysis of gene expression in a large number of single cells. In this technique, fixed and permeabilized cells are incubated with biotinylated single-stranded RNA probes and by means of a fluorescently labelled second-step reagent, the cells are analyzed by flow cytometry. This is a rapid and simple method that allows all of the steps in the procedure to be performed on cells in suspension. Using this approach, we demonstrate here that immunoglobulin heavy chain variable region (VH) gene expression can be analyzed among individual cells using particular VH family-specific probes. This technique has a high degree of accuracy (greater than 97%) in detecting the fraction of cells expressing a specific message in a population and is sensitive enough to detect immunoglobulin message in LPS activated B cells. The technique has been applied successfully to monitor gene expression in homogeneous and heterogeneous populations. It also allows concurrent analysis of cell surface proteins and gene expression through two-color flow cytometry. This method of monitoring gene expression in individual cells may have a number of applications in immunology and cell biology.

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