UMMS Affiliation

Department of Cell Biology

Publication Date


Document Type



Actins; Animals; Cell Compartmentation; Cells, Cultured; Chick Embryo; Cytoskeletal Proteins; Cytoskeleton; Immunohistochemistry; Microscopy, Electron; Nucleic Acid Hybridization; RNA, Messenger; Tubulin; Vimentin


Cell Biology | Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


We have been able to visualize cytoskeletal messenger RNA molecules at high resolution using nonisotopic in situ hybridization followed by whole-mount electron microscopy. Biotinated cDNA probes for actin, tubulin, or vimentin mRNAs were hybridized to Triton-extracted chicken embryo fibroblasts and myoblasts. The cells were then exposed to antibodies against biotin followed by colloidal gold-conjugated antibodies and then critical-point dried. Identification of mRNA was possible using a probe fragmented to small sizes such that hybridization of several probe fragments along the mRNA was detected as a string of colloidal gold particles qualitatively and quantitatively distinguishable from nonspecific background. Extensive analysis showed that when eight gold particles were seen in this iterated array, the signal to noise ratio was greater than 30:1. Furthermore, these gold particles were colinear, often spiral, or circular suggesting detection of a single nucleic acid molecule. Antibodies against actin, vimentin, or tubulin proteins were used after in situ hybridization, allowing simultaneous detection of the protein and its cognate message on the same sample. This revealed that cytoskeletal mRNAs are likely to be extremely close to actin protein (5 nm or less) and unlikely to be within 20 nm of vimentin or tubulin filaments. Actin mRNA was found to be more predominant in lamellipodia of motile cells, confirming previous results. These results indicate that this high resolution in situ hybridization approach is a powerful tool by which to investigate the association of mRNA with the cytoskeleton.

DOI of Published Version



J Cell Biol. 1989 Jun;108(6):2343-53. Link to article on publisher's website

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Journal of cell biology

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID