Frontiers in neuroscience

A PCR-Based Method for RNA Probes and Applications in Neuroscience.

PMID 29770110


In situ hybridization (ISH) is a powerful technique that is used to detect the localization of specific nucleic acid sequences for understanding the organization, regulation, and function of genes. However, in most cases, RNA probes are obtained by in vitro transcription from plasmids containing specific promoter elements and mRNA-specific cDNA. Probes originating from plasmid vectors are time-consuming and not suitable for the rapid gene mapping. Here, we introduce a simplified method to prepare digoxigenin (DIG)-labeled non-radioactive RNA probes based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification and applications in free-floating mouse brain sections. Employing a transgenic reporter line, we investigate the expression of the somatostatin (SST) mRNA in the adult mouse brain. The method can be applied to identify the colocalization of SST mRNA and proteins including corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) and protein kinase C delta type (PKC-δ) using double immunofluorescence, which is useful for understanding the organization of complex brain nuclei. Moreover, the method can also be incorporated with retrograde tracing to visualize the functional connection in the neural circuitry. Briefly, the PCR-based method for non-radioactive RNA probes is a useful tool that can be substantially utilized in neuroscience studies.