UNIT 17.4 In Situ Staining Using MHC Class I Tetramers

  1. Pamela J. Skinner,
  2. Ashley T. Haase

Published Online: 1 JAN 2005

DOI: 10.1002/0471142735.im1704s64

Current Protocols in Immunology

Current Protocols in Immunology

How to Cite

Skinner, P. J. and Haase, A. T. 2005. In Situ Staining Using MHC Class I Tetramers. Current Protocols in Immunology. 64:17.4:17.4.1–17.4.9.

Author Information

  1. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 JAN 2005
  2. Published Print: DEC 2004


The invention of MHC-tetramer technology to label antigen-specific T cells has lead to a greatly enhanced understanding of T lymphocyte biology. This protocol describes the use of MHC class I tetramers to stain antigen-specific T cells in tissue sections. In situ tetramer staining (IST) can be used to determine the localization, abundance, and phenotype of antigen-specific T cells in native environments and in three-dimensional space. IST is broadly applicable because it can be used to stain essentially any antigen-specific T cell in any tissue for which MHC tetramers are available. IST can be combined with histochemistry and/or immunohistochemistry to permit visualization and characterization of antigen-specific T cells relative to other cell types in stained tissue sections. Thus, IST is a useful and valuable component of MHC-tetramer technology.


  • In situ tetramer staining (IST);
  • MHC class I tetramers;
  • CD8+ T cells;
  • vibratome;
  • confocal microscopy