(of nucleic acids) Technique in which single-stranded nucleic acids are allowed to interact so that complexes, or hybrids, are formed by molecules with sufficiently similar, complementary sequences. By this means the degree of sequence identity can be assessed and specific sequences detected. The hybridization can be carried out in solution or with one component immobilized on a gel or, most commonly, nitrocellulose paper. Hybrids are detected by various means: visualization in the electron microscope; by radioactively labelling one component and removing non-complexed DNA; or by washing or digestion with an enzyme that attacks single-stranded nucleic acids and finally estimating the radioactivity bound. Hybridizations are done in all combinations: DNA-DNA (DNA can be rendered single-stranded by heat denaturation), DNA-RNA or RNA-RNA. In situ hybridizations involve hybridizing a labelled nucleic acid (often labelled with a fluorescent dye) to suitably prepared cells or histological sections. This is used particularly to look for specific transcription or localization of genes to specific chromosomes (FISH analysis).
Dictionary of molecular biology. 2004.