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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Whole-mount smFISH allows combining RNA and protein quantification at cellular and subcellular resolution

Zhao, Lihua; Fonseca, Alejandro; Meschichi, Anis; Sicard, Adrien; Rosa, Stefanie


Zhao et al. have developed a method to detect and quantify single molecules of RNA in several intact plant tissues. The method can also be used to simultaneously quantify and locate mRNAs and proteins in single cells with subcellular resolution.Multicellular organisms result from complex developmental processes largely orchestrated through the quantitative spatiotemporal regulation of gene expression. Yet, obtaining absolute counts of messenger RNAs at a three-dimensional resolution remains challenging, especially in plants, owing to high levels of tissue autofluorescence that prevent the detection of diffraction-limited fluorescent spots. In situ hybridization methods based on amplification cycles have recently emerged, but they are laborious and often lead to quantification biases. In this article, we present a simple method based on single-molecule RNA fluorescence in situ hybridization to visualize and count the number of mRNA molecules in several intact plant tissues. In addition, with the use of fluorescent protein reporters, our method also enables simultaneous detection of mRNA and protein quantity, as well as subcellular distribution, in single cells. With this method, research in plants can now fully explore the benefits of the quantitative analysis of transcription and protein levels at cellular and subcellular resolution in plant tissues.

Published in

Nature Plants
2023, Volume: 9, number: 7, pages: 1094–1102