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Cell Mol Biol (Noisy-le-grand). 1995 Feb;41(1):197-212.

Zonal variations of types II, IX and XI collagen mRNAs in rat epiphyseal cartilage chondrocytes: quantitative evaluation of in situ hybridization by image analysis of radioautography.

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  • 1INSERM Unité 120, Hôpital Robert Debré, Paris, France.


The spatial-temporal distribution of the mRNAs for type IX and type XI collagens were compared to that of type II collagen mRNA in the tibial epiphyseal plate cartilage of normal growing rats. The mRNAs were detected by in situ hybridization with radio-labelled specific probes and visualized by radioautography. The areas covered by the resulting silver grains were quantified by computer assisted image analysis. The areas in chondrocytes of each zone of the epiphyseal plate cartilage, which correspond to the stages of chondrocyte development and function were determined. Types II, IX and XI mRNAs were present to some extent in chondrocytes of all zones. The distributions of type II and type IX collagen mRNAs were similar with the highest concentrations in the proliferative zone, and the lowest in the resting and calcifying zones chondrocytes. In contrast, type XI collagen mRNA had a different distribution, with the lowest concentration in the resting zone chondrocytes and a significant decrease in the calcifying zone chondrocytes. These patterns correlates with the changes in chondrocyte function, and may reflect the roles of the type IX and type XI collagens. The data show that computer assisted image analysis of in situ hybridization radioautographic images is a precise, rapid tool for analysing differences in gene expression.

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