Biotin was recently applied to detect cellular DNA or RNA. In combination with avidin, streptavidin or antibody, it can be conjugated with fluorescent dye, enzyme, ferritin, or gold. However, emphasis has recently been placed on the false-positive results that are obtained when this probe is used, because endogenous biotin may sometimes interfere with specific signals. Digoxigenin appears to be an interesting alternative because it is present exclusively in Digitalis plants as a secondary metabolite. We discuss in this review the efficiency and the respective advantages and disavantages of these two probes for in situ hybridization, mainly at the electron microscopic level.
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