Fluorescent in situ hybridisation (FISH) is a powerful tool for the evaluation of chromosomal alterations in formalin fixed paraffin wax embedded sections of colorectal cancer. However, initial experiments using a two-step detection system for digoxigenin labelled chromosome specific centromeric probes resulted in a complete lack of hybridisation signal from a number of colorectal tumour sections. This was due to high levels of background autofluorescence observed in this tissue, which masked any relatively weak hybridisations present. To overcome this problem, a biotinylated tyramide mediated amplification system was incorporated into the FISH detection protocol. This involves the use of horseradish peroxidase to activate the biotinylated tyramide, resulting in the deposition of a large number of biotin molecules at the site of bound peroxidase, which corresponds directly to the location of hybridised probe. Final detection was by means of a streptavidin-FITC conjugate. Using this technique, a panel of 11 colorectal tumour samples studied to date have shown strong, specific hybridisation signals to the nucleus of tumour cells. Amplification of FISH signals by biotinylated tyramide has the potential to improve weak hybridisation signals in cells from numerous sources, using a variety of probe types, including single copy gene probes as well as centromere specific probes.
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