The importance of fixation procedures on DNA template and its suitability for solution-phase polymerase chain reaction and PCR in situ hybridization

Academic Article


  • Conventional solution-phase polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and in situ PCR/PCR in situ hybridization are powerful tools for retrospective analysis of fixed paraffin wax-embedded material. Amplification failure using these techniques is now encountered in some centres using archival fixed tissues. Such {black left-pointing small triangle}ailures' may not only be due to absent target DNA sequences in the tissues, but may be a direct effect of the type of fixative, fixation time and/or fixation temperature used. The type of nucleic acid extraction procedure applied will also influence amplification results. This is particularly true with in situ PCR/PCR in situ hybridization. To examine these effects in solution-phase PCR, β-globin gene was amplified in 100 mg pieces of tonsillar tissue fixed in Formal saline, 10% formalin, neutral buffered formaldehyde, Carnoy's, Bouin's, buffered formaldehyde sublimate, Zenker's, Helly's and glutaraldehyde at 0 to 4°C, room temperature and 37°C fixation temperatures and for fixation periods of 6, 24, 48 and 72 hours and 1 week. DNA extraction procedures used were simple boiling and 5 days' proteinase K digestion at 37°C. Amplified product was visible primarily yet variably from tissue fixed in neutral buffered formaldehyde and Carnoy's, whereas fixation in mercuric chloride-based fixatives produced consistently negative results. Room temperature and 37°C fixation temperature appeared most conducive to yielding amplifiable DNA template. Fixation times of 24 and 48 hours in neutral buffered formaldehyde and Carnoy's again favoured amplification. Fixed SiHa cells (containing 1-2 copies of HPV 16) were examined using PCR in situ hybridization for the amplification of HPV 16. Discrete and diffuse amplification signals were obtained. Neutral buffered formaldehyde fixation for 12-24 hours yielded amplifiable material suitable for use with PCR in situ hybridization. Overall amplification success within cellular preparations was 40%, with non-specific background staining also seen. Possible technical problems encountered with PCR in situ hybridization are discussed. © 1994 Chapman & Hall.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 11120514
  • Author List

  • O'Leary JJ; Browne G; Landers RJ; Crowley M; Healy IB; Street JT; Pollock AM; Murphy J; Johnson MI; Lewis FA
  • Start Page

  • 337
  • End Page

  • 346
  • Volume

  • 26
  • Issue

  • 4