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Research article2004Peer reviewed

Liquid phase fluorescence in situ RT-PCR analysis for gene expression analysis in woody stems

Gray-Mitsumunel, M; Abe, H; Takahashi, J; Sundberg, B; Mellerowicz, EJ


We explore a rapid in situ RT-PCR protocol for gene expression studies in woody stem tissues. In situ RT-PCR was performed using fluorescent dye-conjugated nucleic acid and the fluorescence signals derived from target RNAs were detected using confocal laser scanning microscopy. The signal to background ratio was greatly enhanced by performing two rounds of PCR reactions, first without the fluorescent dye and second with the dye. Using this protocol, we obtained strong gene-pecific signals in secondary stem tissues. The signals were PCR-dependent, as shown by the lack of cytoplasmic signals in the tissue sections in which either DNA polymerase or primers were omitted from PCR reactions, and were RNA-dependent, as shown by great reduction of cytoplasmic signals when sections were treated with RNase before RT reactions. To verify our protocol, transcript localization of the rbcS gene was examined in secondary stems of hybrid aspen (Populus tremula L. x tremuloides Michx.) and compared to the chlorophyll autofluorescence signal. The in situ RT-PCR signals form the rbcS gene and chlorophyll autofluorescence co-localized in the same cell types. The signal was also confirmed by Northern blot analysis of isolated RNA from the cambium and developing xylem, thus confirming the validity of the protocol. Some difficulties of in situ transcript localization and the interpretation of the signal distribution in the secondary tissues are discussed


confocal laser scanning microscopy; in situ RT-PCR; Populus; vascular cambium; wood; xylem

Published in

Plant Biology
2004, Volume: 6, number: 1, pages: 47-54