PAT-ChIP coupled with laser microdissection allows the study of chromatin in selected cell populations from paraffin-embedded patient samples

Stefano Amatori, Marco Ballarini, Alice Faversani, Elena Belloni, Fulvia Fusar, Silvano Bosari, Pier Giuseppe Pelicci, Saverio Minucci, Mirco Fanelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The recent introduction of pathology tissue-chromatin immunoprecipitation (PAT-ChIP), a technique allowing chromatin immunoprecipitation from formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues, has expanded the application potential of epigenetic studies in tissue samples. However, FFPE tissue section analysis is strongly limited by tissue heterogeneity, which hinders linking the observed epigenetic events to the corresponding cellular population. Thus, ideally, to take full advantage of PAT-ChIP approaches, procedures able to increase the purity and homogeneity of cell populations from FFPE tissues are required. Results: In this study, we tested the use of both core needle biopsies (CNBs) and laser microdissection (LMD), evaluating the compatibility of these methods with the PAT-ChIP procedure. Modifications of the original protocols were introduced in order to increase reproducibility and reduce experimental time. We first demonstrated that chromatin can be prepared and effectively immunoprecipitated starting from 0.6-mm-diameter CNBs. Subsequently, in order to assess the applicability of PAT-ChIP to LMD samples, we tested the effects of hematoxylin or eosin staining on chromatin extraction and immunoprecipitation, as well as the reproducibility of our technique when using particularly low quantities of starting material. Finally, we carried out the PAT-ChIP using chromatin extracted from either normal tissue or neoplastic lesions, the latter obtained by LMD from FFPE lung sections derived from mutant K-rasv12transgenic mice or from human adeno- or squamous lung carcinoma samples. Well characterized histone post-translational modifications (HPTMs), such as H3K4me3, H3K27me3, H3K27Ac, and H3K9me3, were specifically immunoselected, as well as the CTCF transcription factor and RNA polymerase II (Pol II). Conclusions: Epigenetic profiling can be performed on enriched cell populations obtained from FFPE tissue sections. The improved PAT-ChIP protocol will be used for the discovery and/or validation of novel epigenetic biomarkers in FFPE human samples.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18
JournalEpigenetics and Chromatin
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 5 2014


  • Chromatin immunoprecipitation
  • FFPE samples
  • Laser microdissection
  • PAT-ChIP
  • Pathology samples

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology


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