Detection of mammalian microRNA expression by in situ hybridization with RNA oligonucleotides

Dev Dyn. 2006 Sep;235(9):2538-48. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.20847.


We have developed an in situ hybridization procedure for the detection of microRNAs (miRNAs) in tissue sections from mouse embryos and adult organs. The method uses highly specific washing conditions for RNA oligonucleotide probes conjugated to a fluorescein hapten. We show that this method detects predominantly mature miRNAs rather than the miRNA precursors or primary transcripts. We have determined expression patterns for several miRNAs expressed in the developing and adult nervous system, including miR-124a, miR-9, miR-92, and miR-204. Whereas miR-124a is expressed in neurons, miR-9 is expressed in neural progenitors and some neurons, and miR-204 is expressed in the choroid plexus, retinal pigment epithelium, and ciliary body. miR-204 is located in an intron of the TRPM3 gene, and the TRPM3 mRNA is coexpressed with miR-204 in the choroid plexus. We also find that primary transcripts for miR-124a and miR-9 genes are expressed in patterns similar to their respective mature miRNAs. The ability to visualize expression of specific miRNAs in embryos and tissues should aid studies on miRNA function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Central Nervous System / embryology
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Embryonic Development / genetics
  • Eye / growth & development
  • Eye / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fluorescein
  • Gene Expression
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Mice
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Oligonucleotide Probes / genetics
  • Oligoribonucleotides / genetics
  • Pregnancy


  • MIRN204 microRNA, mouse
  • MicroRNAs
  • Oligonucleotide Probes
  • Oligoribonucleotides
  • Fluorescein