Reproduction, Fertility and Development Reproduction, Fertility and Development Society
Vertebrate reproductive science and technology


R. Kenngott A , G. Palma B , M.J. Wendl A , M. Vermehren A and F. Sinowatz A

A Lehrstuhl für Tieranatomie II, Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich, Bavaria, Germany;

B Consejo National de Investigaciones Cientificas y Tecnicas, Diamante, Argentina

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 22(1) 264-265
Published: 8 December 2009


Developmental processes in complex organs like the ovary are difficult to study in terms of a biochemical and molecular biological analysis. Laser-assisted microdissection allows the efficient and precise capture of single cells or groups of cells of an organ within the context of time and space and permits their subsequent molecular characterization. Together with real-time PCR techniques, it is now feasible to study gene expression in defined cell populations of complex tissues, but it is essential to create standards optimized for fixation, preparation, and isolation of RNA, reverse transcription reaction, and real-time PCR protocol for every tissue of interest. The aim of our study was to develop protocols for a precise analysis of estrogen receptor alpha (ER-α) and progesterone receptor (PR) in defined compartments of the ovary (granulosa cells, theca interna cells, zona vasculosa, and zona parenchymatosa of the stroma). Additionally, the receptor proteins were localized by immunohistochemistry. A special focus was put on the question of how formalin fixation and paraffin embedding influences the quality of the isolated RNA from microdissected material, which was used for quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (qRT-PCR). Quality and quantity of total RNA extracted from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) sections and from material immersed in RNAlater® (Ambion, Foster City, CA, USA) was checked using an Experion automated electrophoresis system (Bio-Rad, Munich, Germany). The RNA quality indicator for microdissected material was between 6 and 7, and for RNAlater® material was 9 or better. Online qRT-PCR using the iCycler SYBR GreenTM protocol (Bio-Rad) was performed in a 96-well plate. Primer pairs were chosen to generate PCR products between 100 bp (ER-α) and 140 bp (PR), as RNA recovered from FFPE-laser microdissected material was expected to be considerably fragmented. Using GenEx software (BioEPS, Freisling, Germany), we showed that the expression of mRNA for PR was much stronger in the theca interna than in the 3 other compartments. Estrogen receptor alpha, on the other hand, was nearly exclusively expressed in the zona parenchymatosa and zona vasculosa of the stroma. Our results show that cells obtained after laser microdissection from FFPE ovarian material can be successfully used for subsequent real-time PCR, despite the fact the RNA quality indicator number of the isolated RNA was usually comparatively low. The data of our immunohistochemical analysis support the expression data of our RNA studies. In conclusion, laser-capture microdissection in combination with quantitative PCR is a reproducible and reliable technique for quantification of a small number of cells from FFPE material.

We gratefully acknowledge the continuous support by the DFG-Graduiertenkolleg 1029 and the BMBF (ARG 08/013).

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