Spatial detection of mitochondrial DNA and RNA in tissues

Front Cell Dev Biol. 2024 May 14;12:1346778. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2024.1346778. eCollection 2024.


BACKGROUND: Mitochondrial health has gained attention in a number of diseases, both as an indicator of disease state and as a potential therapeutic target. The quality and amount of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and RNA (mtRNA) can be important indicators of mitochondrial and cell health, but are difficult to measure in complex tissues.

METHODS: mtDNA and mtRNA in zebrafish retina samples were fluorescently labeled using RNAscope™ in situ hybridization, then mitochondria were stained using immunohistochemistry. Pretreatment with RNase was used for validation. Confocal images were collected and analyzed, and relative amounts of mtDNA and mtRNA were reported. Findings regarding mtDNA were confirmed using qPCR.

RESULTS: Signals from probes detecting mtDNA and mtRNA were localized to mitochondria, and were differentially sensitive to RNase. This labeling strategy allows for quantification of relative mtDNA and mtRNA levels in individual cells. As a demonstration of the method in a complex tissue, single photoreceptors in zebrafish retina were analyzed for mtDNA and mtRNA content. An increase in mtRNA but not mtDNA coincides with proliferation of mitochondria at night in cones. A similar trend was measured in rods.

DISCUSSION: Mitochondrial gene expression is an important component of cell adaptations to disease, stress, or aging. This method enables the study of mtDNA and mtRNA in single cells of an intact, complex tissue. The protocol presented here uses commercially-available tools, and is adaptable to a range of species and tissue types.

PMID:38808224 | PMC:PMC11130414 | DOI:10.3389/fcell.2024.1346778