Determination of gene expression patterns using in situ hybridization to Drosophila testes

Nat Protoc. 2009;4(12):1807-19. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2009.192.


We describe a whole-mount RNA in situ hybridization (ISH) method optimized for detection of the cellular and subcellular distributions of specific mRNA within Drosophila testes and male genital tract. Digoxygenin (dig)-labeled antisense RNA probes are in vitro transcribed from a template synthesized by (RT)-PCR; the probe length is reduced by hydrolysis. Testes and male genital tracts are dissected from adult flies, fixed and processed for hybridization. Both probe and fixed testes can be stored before use. Extensive post-hybridization washing reduces the background. Detection is through alkaline phosphatase-conjugated anti-dig antibodies followed by a color reaction. This protocol is suitable for low-medium throughput applications with parallel processing of 2-48 samples, and takes 4-5 d to complete. We have used this protocol, which is similar to other RNA ISH protocols, but optimized for whole-mount Drosophila testes, to document the expression of about 1,000 genes in Drosophila melanogaster male genital tract.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Digoxigenin / analysis
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / analysis
  • In Situ Hybridization / methods*
  • Male
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Testis / metabolism*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Digoxigenin