Analysis of microRNA expression by in situ hybridization with RNA oligonucleotide probes

Methods. 2007 Oct;43(2):153-61. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2007.04.008.


In situ hybridization is an important tool for analyzing gene expression and developing hypotheses about gene functions. The discovery of hundreds of microRNA (miRNA) genes in animals has provided new challenges for analyzing gene expression and functions. The small size of the mature miRNAs ( approximately 20-24 nucleotides in length) presents difficulties for conventional in situ hybridization methods. However, we have described a modified in situ hybridization method for detection of mammalian miRNAs in tissue sections, based upon the use of RNA oligonucleotide probes in combination with highly specific wash conditions. Here, we present detailed procedures for detection of miRNAs in tissue sections or cultured cells. The methods described can utilize either nonradioactive hapten-conjugated probes that are detected by enzyme-coupled antibodies, or radioactively labeled probes that are detected by autoradiography. The ability to visualize miRNA expression patterns in tissue sections provides an additional tool for the analyses of miRNA expression and function. In addition, the use of radioactively labeled probes should facilitate quantitative analyses of changes in miRNA gene expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods*
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization / methods*
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Mice
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / isolation & purification
  • Molecular Probe Techniques
  • Oligonucleotide Probes*
  • Rats
  • Solutions


  • Indicators and Reagents
  • MicroRNAs
  • Oligonucleotide Probes
  • Solutions