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PLoS One. 2014 Apr 22;9(4):e95750. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0095750. eCollection 2014.

Whole-mount MeFISH: a novel technique for simultaneous visualization of specific DNA methylation and protein/RNA expression.

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Technology & Development Team for Mammalian Genome Dynamics, RIKEN BioResource Center, Ibaraki, Japan.
Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.
Division of Epigenomics and Development, Medical Institute of Bioregulation, and Epigenome Network Research Center, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan.
Technology & Development Team for Mammalian Genome Dynamics, RIKEN BioResource Center, Ibaraki, Japan; Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.


To understand the spatiotemporal changes in cellular status that occur during embryonic development, it is desirable to detect simultaneously the expression of genes, proteins, and epigenetic modifications in individual embryonic cells. A technique termed methylation-specific fluorescence in situ hybridization (MeFISH) was developed recently that can visualize the methylation status of specific DNA sequences in cells fixed on a glass slide. Here, we adapted this glass slide-based MeFISH to the study of intact embryos, and established a method called whole-mount MeFISH. This method can be applied to any DNA sequences in theory and, as a proof-of-concept experiment, we examined the DNA methylation status of satellite repeats in developing mouse primordial germ cells, in which global DNA demethylation is known to take place, and obtained a result that was consistent with previous findings, thus validating the MeFISH method. We also succeeded in combining whole-mount MeFISH with immunostaining or RNA fluorescence in situ hybridization (RNA-FISH) techniques by adopting steps to retain signals of RNA-FISH or immunostaining after harsh denaturation step of MeFISH. The combined methods enabled the simultaneous visualization of DNA methylation and protein or RNA expression at single-cell resolution without destroying embryonic and nuclear structures. This whole-mount MeFISH technique should facilitate the study of the dynamics of DNA methylation status during embryonic development with unprecedented resolution.

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