A method for combining RNAscope in situ hybridization with immunohistochemistry in thick free-floating brain sections and primary neuronal cultures

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In situ hybridization (ISH) is an extremely useful tool for localizing gene expression and changes in expression to specific cell populations in tissue samples across numerous research fields. Typically, a research group will put forth significant effort to design, generate, validate and then utilize in situ probes in thin or ultrathin paraffin embedded tissue sections. While combining ISH and IHC is an established technique, the combination of RNAscope ISH, a commercially available ISH assay with single transcript sensitivity, and IHC in thick free-floating tissue sections has not been described. Here, we provide a protocol that combines RNAscope ISH with IHC in thick free-floating tissue sections from the brain and allows simultaneous co-localization of genes and proteins in individual cells. This approach works well with a number of ISH probes (e.g. small proline-rich repeat 1a, βIII-tubulin, tau, and β-actin) and IHC antibody stains (e.g. tyrosine hydroxylase, βIII-tubulin, NeuN, and glial fibrillary acidic protein) in rat brain sections. In addition, we provide examples of combining ISH-IHC dual staining in primary neuron cultures and double-ISH labeling in thick free-floating tissue sections from the brain. Finally, we highlight the ability of RNAscope to detect ectopic DNA in neurons transduced with viral vectors. RNAscope ISH is a commercially available technology that utilizes a branched or "tree" in situ method to obtain ultrasensitive, single transcript detection. Immunohistochemistry is a tried and true method for identifying specific protein in cell populations. The combination of a sensitive and versatile oligonucleotide detection method with an established and versatile protein assay is a significant advancement in studies using free-floating tissue sections.

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Animals; Brain (metabolism); Immunohistochemistry (methods); In Situ Hybridization (methods); Male; Neurons (cytology, metabolism); Primary Cell Culture; Rats

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PloS one







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