We developed an in-tube in situ hybridization method for mRNA quantification after fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS-mQ). A specific RNA in a particular cell type is stained with a cRNA probe and a fluorescent dye, which allows the stained cells to be selected by FACS without excessive RNA degradation. Our previous protocol required 4 h for hybridization with a cRNA probe, which might not produce enough fluorescence signal for sorting genes with low expressions. We determined the effect of prolonged hybridization for in-tube in situ hybridization on quantitative measurement of intracellular RNAs. During the hybridization step, the quantity of ACTB mRNA decreased gradually until 4 h, but remained constant from 4 to 16 h below 63.6° C. For flow cytometry, cells hybridization with cRNA probes for TG mRNA at 60° C for 16 h showed both increased signal and decreased background fluorescence compared to those hybridized for 4 h. These results indicate that when performing in-tube in situ hybridization, hybridization temperature can be raised to 63.6° C and the hybridization step can be extended up to 16 h without excessive intracellular RNA degradation.
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