Laser Capture Microdissection of Mouse Embryonic Cartilage and Bone for Gene Expression Analysis

J Vis Exp. 2019 Dec 18:(154). doi: 10.3791/60503.


Laser capture microdissection (LCM) is a powerful tool to isolate specific cell types or regions of interest from heterogeneous tissues. The cellular and molecular complexity of skeletal elements increases with development. Tissue heterogeneity, such as at the interface of cartilaginous and osseous elements with each other or with surrounding tissues, is one obstacle to the study of developing cartilage and bone. Our protocol provides a rapid method of tissue processing and isolation of cartilage and bone that yields high quality RNA for gene expression analysis. Fresh frozen tissues of mouse embryos are sectioned and brief cresyl violet staining is used to visualize cartilage and bone with colors distinct from surrounding tissues. Slides are then rapidly dehydrated, and cartilage and bone are isolated subsequently by LCM. The minimization of exposure to aqueous solutions during this process maintains RNA integrity. Mouse Meckel's cartilage and mandibular bone at E16.5 were successfully collected and gene expression analysis showed differential expression of marker genes for osteoblasts, osteocytes, osteoclasts, and chondrocytes. High quality RNA was also isolated from a range of tissues and embryonic ages. This protocol details sample preparation for LCM including cryoembedding, sectioning, staining and dehydrating fresh frozen tissues, and precise isolation of cartilage and bone by LCM resulting in high quality RNA for transcriptomic analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone and Bones / embryology
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism*
  • Cartilage / embryology
  • Cartilage / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods*
  • Laser Capture Microdissection / methods*
  • Mice