Neglecting tissue heterogeneity during the analysis of microRNA (miRNA) levels results in average signals from an unknown mixture of different cell types that are difficult to interpret. Here we demonstrate the technical requirements needed to obtain high-quality, quantitative miRNA expression information from tumor tissue compartments obtained by laser microdissection (LMD). Furthermore, we show the significance of disentangling tumor tissue heterogeneity by applying the newly developed protocols for combining LMD of tumor tissue compartments with RT-qPCR analysis to reveal compartment-specific miRNA expression signatures.
An important advantage of this strategy is that the miRNA signature can be directly linked to histopathology. In summary, combining LMD and RT-qPCR is a powerful approach for spatial miRNA expression analysis in complex tissues, enabling discovery of disease mechanisms, biomarkers and drug candidates.