Visualizing RNA at Electron Microscopy by Terbium Citrate

  • Marco BiggiogeraEmail author
  • Irene Masiello
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1560)


Although the EDTA regressive technique allows the visualization of RNPs, this widely used method is not intended to be specific for RNA alone. A fine ultrastructural visualization of RNA on ultrathin sections can be obtained with terbium citrate: this method gives a weak contrast but a very fine end product which allows observations at a high resolution level.

The procedure is very simple since it consists only of a period of incubation and very short washes, which are the crucial point of this technique to avoid the Tb removal from RNA. This method does not require any special type of fixation and embedding.

Key words

RNA staining Terbium citrate Cytochemistry Electron microscopy EDTA regressive stain Lanthanides 



The authors are grateful to Ms. Francine Flach and Prof. Stan Fakan. Part of this work has been carried out at the CME, University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

This chapter is dedicated to the memory of Vàclav Kopečný and Jean-Luc Courtens.


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© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology and Biotechnology, Laboratory of Cell Biology and NeurobiologyUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly

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