A new RNA-friendly fixative for the preservation of penaeid shrimp samples for virological detection using cDNA genomic probes

Kenneth W. Hasson, Jack Hasson, Hernan Aubert, Rita M. Redman, Donald V. Lightner

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    82 Scopus citations


    In situ hybridization analysis of shrimp histological sections, utilizing Taura syndrome virus (TSV) specific cDNA probes, is the most sensitive diagnostic technique presently available for the detection of this penaeid shrimp viral disease. However, false negative genomic probe results are obtained frequently from samples of Pacific white shrimp, Penaeus vannamei, that have been preserved with Davidson's AFA (acetic acid, formaldehyde, alcohol) fixative and that, otherwise, demonstrate pathognomonic TSV lesions by routine histology. This problem was linked to prolonged storage of shrimp samples in Davidson's fixative, which is highly acidic (pH ~ 3.5-4). Degradation of TSV genomic RNA was hypothesized to be due to either fixative- induced acid hydrolysis and/or acidophilic endogenous ribonuclease activity. Routine H and E histology and in situ hybridization analyses were conducted on equal numbers of TSV infected P. vannamei juveniles that were preserved for four different time periods (2, 6, 10 and 14 days) with either Davidson's fixative or a new, near neutral (pH ~ 6.0 - 7.0), RNA-friendly fixative (R-F) that was developed by the authors. In situ hybridization assays were conducted with and without RNase precautions and all of the samples tested contained moderate to severe TSV lesions by routine histology. Davidson's preserved samples produced weak TSV probe signals after 2 days fixation, but did not react with the probes in those samples that were stored for > 6 days in the fixative. In contrast, TSV was detectable by gene probe in all of the time treatment samples preserved with the new R-F fixative. Equivalent in situ hybridization results were obtained when the same samples were analyzed in the absence of RNase-free conditions. These findings suggest that TSV RNA is degraded when samples are stored in an acidic fixative, such as Davidson's, for more than 2 days and that this problem can be prevented through preservation of shrimp samples with R-F fixative. The efficacy of this new fixative is demonstrated and the results show that RNase-free conditions are not necessary for conducting TSV in situ hybridization analyses.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)227-236
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Virological Methods
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Jul 1997


    • Acid hydrolysis
    • Fixation
    • In situ hybridization
    • Ribonucleases
    • Taura syndrome virus
    • Viral RNA

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Virology


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