Cell-specific detection of microRNA expression during cardiomyogenesis by combined in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry

Mikael Schneider, Ditte Caroline Andersen, Asli Silahtaroglu, Stig Lyngbæk, Sakari Kauppinen, Jakob Lerche Hansen, Søren Paludan Sheikh

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MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate gene expression by mediating translational repression or mRNA degradation of their targets, and several miRNAs control developmental decisions through embryogenesis. In the developing heart, miRNA targets comprise key players mediating cardiac lineage determination. However, although several miRNAs have been identified as differentially regulated during cardiac development and disease, their distinct cell-specific localization remains largely undetermined, likely owing to a lack of adequate methods. We therefore report the development of a markedly improved approach combining fluorescence-based miRNA-in situ hybridization (miRNA-ISH) with immunohistochemistry (IHC). We have applied this protocol to differentiating embryoid bodies (EBs) as well as embryonic and adult mouse hearts, to detect miRNAs that were upregulated during EB cardiomyogenesis, as determined by array-based miRNA expression profiling. In this manner, we found specific co-localization of miR-1 to myosin positive cells (cardiomyocytes) of EBs, developing and mature hearts. In contrast, miR-125b and -199a did not localize to cardiomyocytes, as previously suggested for miR-199a, but were rather expressed in connective tissue cells of the heart. More specifically, by co-staining with α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) and collagen-I, we found that miR-125b and -199a localize to perivascular α-SMA(-) stromal cells. Our approach thus proved valid for determining cell-specific localization of miRNAs, and the findings we present highlight the importance of determining exact cell-specific localization of miRNAs by sequential miRNA-ISH and IHC in studies aiming at understanding the role of miRNAs and their targets. This approach will hopefully aid in identifying relevant miRNA targets of both the heart and other organs.

TidsskriftJournal of Molecular Histology
Udgave nummer4
Sider (fra-til)289-99
Antal sider11
StatusUdgivet - aug. 2011