PRL receptor gene expression was visualized in various tissues by in situ hybridization, using 35S-labeled probes unique to each form of receptor. Tissues were removed rapidly from adult male and female rats and placed in liquid nitrogen. Cryostat sections (10 µm) were prepared, fixed, pretreated, and dehydrated before incubation with the various probes. Hybridization was performed overnight, after which the slides were first exposed to autoradiographic film and then dipped in nuclear emulsion and exposed for 1-2 weeks. The specificity of the signal was studied by competition and using radiolabeled heterologous probes. Some tissues show no expression of either form of receptor mRNA, such as olfactory bulb and penis. Macroautoradiogram signals (optical density) were compared to a standard curve to observe the variation in mRNA expression, which was expressed in arbitrary units. Sex differences in the expression of PRL receptors were seen in a number of tissues, such as adrenal gland and pituitary. Expression of mRNAs specific to the long form of PRL receptor was predominant in adrenal gland, pituitary, thymus, spleen, skin, heart, and skeletal muscle, whereas the short form was expressed to a greater extent in kidney and lung. At the light microscopic level, the silver grains observed by epipolarization or light field were seen in the specific regions or cells that express PRL receptor mRNAs. In conclusion, the long form transcript predominates in most tissues, except kidney and lung. The advantage of in situ hybridization is that it allows the identification of specific regions or cells expressing mRNAs to be identified. The actions of PRL have not been identified in all tissues expressing PRL receptor transcripts, nor has any definitive correlation been made with the expression of short and long forms of PRL receptor and function.
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