Developmental Biology Cell Biology

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Authors: Andreas Hejnol 

Introduction

This protocol is based on a in situ hybridization protocol used for embryos of the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis (Martindale et al. 2004).

Reagents

Hybe Buffer (40 mL)

buffer

10x PBS = 18.6 mM NaH2PO4 (2.56 g NaH2PO4-H2O per liter dH2O) 84.1 mM Na2HPO4 (11.94 g Na2HPO4-H2O per liter dH2O) 1,750 mM NaCl (102.2 g NaCl per liter dH2O)

PTw = 1x PBS + 0.1% Tween-20 detergent

PBT = 1x PBS + 0.2% Triton X-100 + 0.1% BSA (store at 4 degrees C)

20x SSC = 0.3 M Na citrate + 3 M NaCl, pH 7

Alkaline Phosphatase buffer (50mL)

buffer2

AP Substrate Solution

To AP buffer, add 3.3 μl/ml NBT (stock: 50 mg/ml in 70% dimethyl formamide:30% water) and then 3.3 μl/ml BCIP (stock: 50 mg/ml in dimethyl formamide). Keep this solution dark.

Equipment

Rocker table at RT and at 4 degrees

Procedure

Fixation

Fixative: 3.7% formaldehyde, in Sea water (make up fresh)

  1. Starve Adults for two days. Fix hatchlings on the same day they hatched.
  2. Relax adults and juveniles in 7.14% MgCl2 up to 10 min
  3. Fix animals in 3.7% formaldehyde only for 4 hours at 4°C.
  4. Wash 5x in PTw, 1x in dH2O, and transfer to fresh 100% MeOH
  5. Replace MeOH 2x, store at -20°C in a screw cap tube

In situ hybridization

Use RNAse-free equipment and solutions through hybridization step. All washes are 5 min. at RT on rocker table unless otherwise stated.

DAY 1

Pretreatment

  • 1. Transfer embryos to a 24 well dish and use 500μl for each wash.
  • 2. Rehydrate through: 60% MeOH/40% PTw, 30% MeOH/70%, PTw 4 x PTw washes
  • 3. Digest with Proteinase-K (0.01 mg/ml in PTw – make fresh) for 2-3 minutes (no shaker). (Use 4 µl of a 20 mg/ml stock in 8 ml)
  • 4. Stop digestion with 2 (PTw + 2 mg/ml glycine) washes.
  • 5. Wash with 1% triethanolamine in PTw
  • 6. Add 1.5 μl acetic anhydride to 500 µl 1% triethanolamine, Vortex it an put on the probe for 5 minutes.
  • 7. Take the solution, add 1.5 μl more acetic anhydride, vortex again and put it again on the probe.
  • 8. Wash briefly in Ptw, then wash 2×5 min in PTw
  • 9. Refix in 3.7% formaldehyde in PTw for 1 hour at RT.
  • 10. Wash 5 x in PTw
  • 11. Heat animals for 10 min at 80°C to destroy endogenous phosphatases

Prehybridization

  • 12. Remove as much liquid as possible without letting the embryos falling dry, and add 500 μl hybe buffer B – incubate for 10 minutes at RT.
  • 13. Remove liquid – add 500 μl hybe buffer. Place at hybe temp overnight
  • 14. Wash embryos once with prewarmed Hybe to get rid of traces of the dissolved egg cluster jelly

Hybridisation

  • 15. Dilute probe to a final concentration of 3-0.05 ng/μl (usually 2.0 ng/μl) in hybe solution (dig-labeled probe should be stored as a 50 ng/μl stock in hybe buffer at -20 degrees). Denature probe at 80-90°C max for 10 minutes.
  • 16. Remove prehybe and add probe to each well. Hybridize overnight or the weekend.

DAY 2

  • 17. Remove Probe (can be reused 4-5 times)
  • 18. Wash 1 x for 10 minutes and 1 x for 40 minutes with hybe buffer at hybe temp. (Do not forget to prewarm hybe buffer)
  • 19. Wash usung the following steps:
    • 30 min in 75% hybe + 25% 2X SSC at hybe temp
    • 30 min in 50% hybe + 50% 2X SSC at hybe temp
    • 30 min in 25% hybe + 75% 2X SSC at hybe temp
    • 30 min in 100% 2X SSC at hybe temp
    • 3×20 min in 0.2X SSC at hybe temp
    • 10 min in 75% 0.2X SSC + 25% PTw at RT
    • 10 min in 50% 0.2X SSC + 50% PTw at RT
    • 10 min in 25% 0.2X SSC + 75% PTw at RT
  • 20. 10 min in 100% PTw at RT

Visualization of Probe

  • 21. Wash 3 x with PBT at RT
  • 22. Block in Boehringer-Mannheim Blocking buffer (diluted to 1x with maleic acid buffer) 1 hr at RT on rocker.
  • 23. Incubate with Boehringer-Mannheim anti-Dig/AP (diluted in blocking buffer to 1:5000) at 4°C overnight on rocker.

DAY 3

  • 24. Wash 10x (or more) for 20-30 minutes in PBT.
  • 25. Wash 3 x for 10 minutes in AP buffer (embryos tend to stick a lot).
  • 26. Develop in AP substrate solution (make fresh) at RT in dark. Monitor color development. (Can also develop slower at 4 degrees)
  • 27. Stop reaction by washing 5 x with PTw.

Timing

4 – 5 days

References

  1. Martindale, M. Q., Pang, K., & Finnerty, J. R. Investigating the origins of triploblasty: ‘mesodermal’ gene expression in a diploblastic animal, the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis (phylum, Cnidaria; class, Anthozoa). Development 131, 2463-2474 (2004).

Acknowledgements

Many thanks go to Kevin Pang for optimizing the in situ protocol in Nematostella and for the help adjusting it to acoel flatworm embryos.

Associated Publications

Acoel development indicates the independent evolution of the bilaterian mouth and anus, Andreas Hejnol and Mark Q. Martindale, Nature 456 (7220) 382 - 386 20/11/2008 doi:10.1038/nature07309

Author information

Andreas Hejnol, University of Hawaii

Source: Protocol Exchange (2008) doi:10.1038/nprot.2008.201. Originally published online 18 September 2008.

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