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Histochemistry. 1988;89(2):109-16.

Detection of proopiomelanocortin mRNA by in situ hybridization, using a biotinylated oligodeoxynucleotide probe and avidin-alkaline phosphatase histochemistry.

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Unit of Histochemistry, University Institute of Pathology, Copenhagen, Denmark.


A synthetic 24-mer oligodeoxynucleotide complementary to the region of proopiomelanocortin (POMC) mRNA that codes for the MSH core sequence (alpha MSH/ACTH[4-11]), was synthesized and labelled in the 3'-end by use of terminal transferase. Probes tailed with either [3H]- or biotin-labelled nucleotides could be used for in situ hybridization studies. Biotinylated probes, hybridized to mouse and rat pituitary sections, were detected by avidin-alkaline phosphatase or streptavidin-alkaline phosphatase procedures and development in 5-bromo-4-chloro-3-indolyl phosphate (BCIP)-nitroblue tetrazolium (NBT). Proteinase K pretreatment of sections produced a drastic enhancement of the signal obtained, particularly in strongly fixed, paraffin-embedded material. The non-radioactive in situ hybridization technique compared favourably to radioactive in situ hybridization in terms of rapidity and precision of the localization. Controls involved deletion of the probe to prove that other components of the reaction sequence did not yield stain, digestion with RNase to prove that tissue RNA was necessary to bind the probe, prehybridization (blocking) with unlabelled probe to prove that the biotinylated probe reacted with its anti-sense region and not its tail and Northern blotting to show that the probe reacted with only one species of pituitary RNA, having the size of mouse pituitary POMC mRNA. In addition, adrenalectomy, known to increase anterior lobe POMC levels, resulted in both increased numbers and increased intensity of positive corticotroph-like cells. Synthetic oligodeoxynucleotides labelled with biotin appear to constitute attractive reagents for in situ hybridization studies when supported by appropriate control procedures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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