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Fluorescence in situ hybridization on three-dimensionally preserved cells (3D-FISH) is an efficient tool to analyze the subcellular localization and spatial arrangement of targeted DNA sequences and RNA transcripts at the single cell level. 3D reconstructions from serial optical sections obtained by confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) have long been considered the gold standard for 3D-FISH analyses. Recent super-resolution techniques circumvent the diffraction-limit of optical resolution and have defined a new state-of-the-art in bioimaging. Three-dimensional structured illumination microscopy (3D-SIM) represents one of these technologies. Notably, 3D-SIM renders an eightfold improved volumetric resolution over conventional imaging, and allows the simultaneous visualization of differently labeled target structures. These features make this approach highly attractive for the analysis of spatial relations and substructures of nuclear targets that escape detection by conventional light microscopy. Here, we focus on the application of 3D-SIM for the visualization of subnuclear 3D-FISH preparations. In comparison with conventional fluorescence microscopy, the quality of 3D-SIM data is dependent to a much greater extent on the optimal sample preparation, labeling and acquisition conditions. We describe typical problems encountered with super-resolution imaging of in situ hybridizations in mammalian tissue culture cells and provide optimized DNA-/(RNA)-FISH protocols including combinations with immunofluorescence staining (Immuno-FISH) and DNA replication labeling using click chemistry.

Original publication




Journal article


Methods Mol Biol

Publication Date





43 - 64


Animals, Cell Nucleus Shape, DNA, Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Imaging, Three-Dimensional, In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence, Indoles, Lighting, Mice, Microscopy, Nucleic Acid Denaturation, Staining and Labeling, Tissue Fixation, Uridine