Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Molecular Biology and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Methodology article

High quality RNA from multiple brain regions simultaneously acquired by laser capture microdissection

Wei-Zhi Wang*, Franziska M Oeschger*, Sheena Lee and Zoltán Molnár*

Author Affiliations

Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford, Le Gros Clark Building, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QX, UK

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Molecular Biology 2009, 10:69  doi:10.1186/1471-2199-10-69

Published: 6 July 2009



Laser capture microdissection enables the isolation of single cells or small cell groups from histological sections under direct microscopic observation. Combined with quantitative PCR or microarray, it is a very powerful approach for studying gene expression profiles in discrete cell populations. The major challenge for such studies is to obtain good quality RNA from small amounts of starting material.


We have developed a simple, flexible, and low-cost method for simultaneously producing RNA from discrete cell groups in embryonic day 15 mouse brain. In particular, we have optimized the following key steps in the procedure: staining, cryosectioning, storage of sections and harvesting of microdissected cells. We obtained the best results when staining 20 μm-thick sections with 1% cresyl violet in 70% ethanol and harvesting the microdissected tissue in RNA stabilization solution. In addition, we introduced three stop-points in the protocol which makes the tedious process of laser capture microdissection more flexible, without compromising RNA quality.


Using this optimized method, we have consistently obtained RNA of high quality from all four simultaneously microdissected cell groups. RNA integrity numbers were all above 8, and long cDNA fragments (> 1.2 kb) were successfully amplified by reverse transcription PCR from all four samples. We conclude that RNAs isolated by this method are well suited for downstream quantitative PCR or microarray studies.