Journal of biomedical nanotechnology

Protecting Quantum Dot Fluorescence from Quenching to Achieve a Reliable Automated Multiplex Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization Assay.

PMID 26485928


Quantum dots (QD) are novel inorganic fluorochromes that are ultra-bright, photo-stable, and available in multiple, highly-resolvable colors. QDs represent an ideal detection material for in situ hybridization (ISH) because they may provide unprecedented resolution and strong signal intensities that are not attainable with traditional fluorophores. Unfortunately, lack of reliability has been an impediment to widespread adoption of QD-based fluorescence in situ hybridization (QD FISH) technology. By optimizing QD-to-target accessibility, we have developed a QD FISH staining procedure that dramatically improves the reliability of an automated ERG/PTEN QD FISH assay (91% 1st pass rate). Here, we report improvements to the assay that protects QD fluorescence from quenching due to trace amounts of heavy metals and minimizes QD background signals. When using this method, highly-consistent staining was observed with the ERG/PTEN QD FISH assay in prostate tissue. Successful staining of several other clinically-relevant genetic markers was also possible. We further demonstrated improved reliability for determining HER2 gene status in breast cancer, identifying anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene break-apart in non-small cell lung cancer, and detecting human papillomavirus 16 (HPV16) in cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. The enhanced QD FISH assay allows for examining complicated genetic aberrances without use of enzymatic amplification. Our optimized methods now demonstrate reliability sufficient for QD FISH technology to be a diagnostic tool in a clinical setting.