Creating High Quality Tissue Microarrays Using Manual and Automated Systems within the Human Protein Atlas

By: Caroline Kampf, Sofie Gustafsson, IngMarie Olsson and Fredrik Pontén
Science for Life Laboratory, Tissue Profiling Center, Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, Uppsala University
, Poster - The Human Protein Atlas

Download the poster (1.3 Mb PDF)

Background to the tissue microarray technology

The tissue microarray (TMA) technology enables high-throughput analysis of multiple tissue and/or cell samples. The advantage is that large amounts of data rapidly can be obtained in a single experimental run, while avoiding experimental variability and facilitating direct comparisons. Importantly, only limited amount of valuable tissue is needed for TMA production, and the number and size of cores in a TMA block can vary from forty (2mm cores) to hundreds (0.6mm cores). The TMA technique is used within the Human Protein Atlas (HPA) for global analysis of protein expression patterns in normal human tissues, cancer and cell lines using immunohistochemistry (IHC). Over 1500 TMAs and 200 cell microarrays have been thus far been generated within HPA!"


Two systems of TMA production

Here we compare the assembly of TMAs using two different systems available at the SciLifeLab Tissue Profiling Center: The manual Beecher MTA-1 system and the automated ATA Grandmaster system. The advantage of a fully automated system is that it is much faster and could be left unsupervised, whereas the manual arrayer is slower and dependent on an experienced lab technician’s work hours. On the other hand the manual system gives the user more control when punching since the applied pressure can vary depending of the hardness of the tissue. Conversely, the automated systems run the risk of damaging valuable or scarce material when human control over the punching process is lost. The manual system is also capable of handling all sorts of tissues, whereas the automated system is not optimal for use with tough tissues like the skin or thyroid. However, the automated arrayer has the possibility of being integrated with other systems and softwares and does not require the same level of hands-on tissue experience to operate as the manual system does. Thus, depending on tissue composition and quality, the successful production of high quality TMAs are in many aspects influenced by the choice of TMA production system.

Comparing production systems

Comparing production systems

The SciLifeLab Tissue Profiling Center

Combining the TMA technology with IHC is a powerful strategy for generating protein expression data on a large scale and allows for the simultaneous analysis of samples from eg. large patient cohorts, while saving valuable material and ensuring more reproducible experiments. Moreover, the use of TMAs saves costs and laboratory processing time. The SciLifeLab Tissue Profiling Center is a national resource that offer scientists and institutions not only TMA production service, but also sectioning of TMAs and paraffin embedded tissues, standardized and automated histological and immunohistochemical staining, as well as high resolution scanning (up to 400x) of stained TMA or tissue slides into digital image files.

SciLifeLab Tissue Profiling Center

The HPR project is funded by the Knut & Alice Wallenberg foundation. The atlas is part of the HUPO Human Antibody Initiative (HAI).

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