Anomalous binding of radiolabeled oligonucleotide probes to plaques and tangles in Alzheimer disease hippocampus

Sibile Pardue, Charles L. White, Eilleen H. Bigio, Marcelle Morrison-Bogorad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Several reports indicate that Alzheimer disease (AD) brain contains elevated levels of heat shock 70 proteins. To determine the cellular localization of the heat shock 70mRNAs, specific oligonucleotide probes were in situ hybridized to AD and control brains. When oligonucleotides were in situ hybridized to brain sections with no AD neuropathology, hybridization was cell-specific and prior ribonuclease (RNase) treatment of adjacent sections resulted in no hybridization signal. However, in situ hybridization to AD hippocampus resulted in heavy grain deposition over senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Despite altering a number of experimental variables, we observed a similar pattern of grain deposition with most of the oligonucleotides tested, including one oligonucleotide specific for glutamic acid decarboxylase mRNA. In situ hybridization with either an RNA probe for glutamic acid decarboxylase or an oligonucleotide probe specific for 18S rRNA did not show this pattern of grain deposition. In control studies a sense hsc70 oligonucleotide showed no grain deposition in either cerebellum or hippocampus. Sections from AD hippocampus pretreated with RNase prior to in situ hybridization demonstrated enhanced grain deposition with the majority of probes tested. Anomalous in situ hybridization to AD hippocampus was usually eliminated by removing formamide from the posthybridization weshes, although post-RNase sticking often remained intense. These findings indicate that artifactual probe binding to senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles may complicate the analysis of in situ hybridization studies using oligonucleotide probes to determine mRNA distribution in AD brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalMolecular and Chemical Neuropathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1994


  • Alzheimer disease
  • anomalous in situ hybridization of oligonucleotides
  • heat shock 70 mRNAs
  • ribonuclease pretreatment
  • sticking to plaques and tangles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology


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