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  1. Summary

    Localization of mRNA and small RNAs (sRNAs) is important for understanding their function. Fluorescentin situhybridization (FISH) has been used extensively in animal systems to study the localization and expression of sRNAs. However, current methods for fluorescentin situdetection of sRNA in plant tissues are less developed. Here we report a protocol (sRNA‐FISH) for efficient fluorescent detection of sRNAs in plants. This protocol is suitable for application in diverse plant species and tissue types. The use of locked nucleic acid probes and antibodies conjugated with different fluorophores allows the detection of two sRNAs in the same sample. Using this method, we have successfully detected the co‐localization of miR2275 and a 24‐nucleotide phased small interfering RNA in maize anther tapetal and archesporial cells. We describe how to overcome the common problem of the wide range of autofluorescence in embedded plant tissue using linear spectral unmixing on a laser scanning confocal microscope. For highly autofluorescent samples, we show that multi‐photon fluorescence excitation microscopy can be used to separate the target sRNA‐FISH signal from background autofluorescence. In contrast to colorimetricin situhybridization, sRNA‐FISH signals can be imaged using super‐resolution microscopy to examine the subcellular localization of sRNAs. We detected maize miR2275 by super‐resolution structured illumination microscopy and direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy. In this study, we describe how we overcame the challenges of adapting FISH for imaging in plant tissue and provide a step‐by‐step sRNA‐FISH protocol for studying sRNAs at the cellular and even subcellular level.

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  2. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Small RNAs are non-coding RNAs that play important roles in the lives of both animals and plants. They are 21- to 24-nt in length and ∼10 nm in size. Their small size and high diversity have made it challenging to develop detection methods that have sufficient resolution and specificity to multiplex and quantify. We created a method, sRNA-PAINT, for the detection of small RNAs with 20 nm resolution by combining the super-resolution method, DNA-based points accumulation in nanoscale topography (DNA-PAINT), and the specificity of locked nucleic acid (LNA) probes for the in situ detection of multiple small RNAs. The method relies on designing probes to target small RNAs that combine DNA oligonucleotides (oligos) for PAINT with LNA-containing oligos for hybridization; therefore, we developed an online tool called ‘Vetting & Analysis of RNA for in situ Hybridization probes’ (VARNISH) for probe design. Our method utilizes advances in DNA-PAINT methodologies, including qPAINT for quantification, and Exchange-PAINT for multiplexing. We demonstrated these capabilities of sRNA-PAINT by detecting and quantifying small RNAs in different cell layers of early developmental stage maize anthers that are important for male sexual reproduction. 
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