Background: Tissue microarray (TMA) technology allows rapid visualization of molecular markers by immunohistochemistry and in situ
hybridization. In addition, TMA instrumentation has the potential to assist in other applications: punches taken from donor blocks can be placed directly into tubes and used for nucleic acid analysis by PCR approaches. However, the question of possible cross-contamination between samples punched with the same device has frequently been raised but never addressed. Methods: Two experiments were performed. (1) A block from mycobacterium tuberculosis
tissue and a second from an uninfected patient were aligned side-by-side in an automated tissue microarrayer. Four 0.6 mm punches were cored from each sample and placed inside their corresponding tube. Between coring of each donor block, a mechanical cleaning step was performed by insertion of the puncher into a paraffin block. This sequence of coring and cleaning was repeated three times, alternating between positive and negative blocks. A fragment from the 6110 insertion sequence specific for mycobacterium tuberculosis
was analyzed; (2) Four 0.6 mm punches were cored from three KRAS
mutated colorectal cancer blocks, alternating with three different wild-type tissues using the same TMA instrument (sequence of coring: G12D, WT, G12V, WT, G13D and WT). Mechanical cleaning of the device between each donor block was made. Mutation analysis by pyrosequencing was carried out. This sequence of coring was repeated manually without any cleaning step between blocks. Results/Discussion: In both analyses, all alternating samples showed the expected result (samples 1, 3 and 5: positive or mutated, samples 2, 4 and 6: negative or wild-type). Similar results were obtained without cleaning step. These findings suggest that no cross-contamination of tissue samples occurs when donor blocks are punched using the same device, however a cleaning step is nonetheless recommended. Our result supports the use of TMA technology as an accessory to PCR applications.
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