The journal of histochemistry and cytochemistry : official journal of the Histochemistry Society

Cytochemical hybridization with fluorochrome-labeled RNA. I. Development of a method using nucleic acids bound to agarose beads as a model.

PMID 6166653


A new procedure to label RNA at the 3'-terminus with a fluorochrome molecule is described. The thiosemicarbazides derived from tetramethylrhodamine isothiocyanate (TRITC) and fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) were prepared by reacting these compounds with hydrazine in dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO):pyridine, 99:1 (v/v). They coupled efficiently to the aldehydes generated by periodate oxidation of RNAs. We determined, using Sepharose to which different nucleic acids and proteins had been bound, that the label added no specific binding properties to the RNA, and did not interfere with duplex formation of labeled poly(U) and poly(A). The stability of the fluorochrome-RNA bond under conditions generally used for hybridization was investigated. The bond was found to be unstable at 66 degrees C in 3 x SSC, 0.1% SDS (50% loss within 45 min) but stable for at least 40 hr at 23 degrees C in 70% formamide/3 x SSC. The hybridization characteristics of complementary RNA, both fluorochrome- and 3H-labeled, were investigated using DNA-Sepharose beads as a cytochemical model. Hybridization was measured by scintillation counting of microliter quantities of beads and quantitative fluorescence microscopy of individual Sepharose beads. No influence of the label on the specificity and stability of the hybrids was found. Maximum specific fluorescence was found after hybridization at 23 degrees C in 70% formamide/3 x SSC. These results made possible the successful use of fluorochrome-labeled RNA to perform cytochemical hybridization followed by detection of the hybrids with fluorescence microscopy. This will be described in an accompanying article.