An evaluation of DNA fluorochromes, staining techniques, and analysis for flow cytometry. I. Unperturbed cell populations

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Journal Article
Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry, 1980, 28 (11), pp. 1224 - 1232
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Several preparative techniques (detergent treatment, ethanol fixation, and hypotonic cell lysis), DNA fluorochromes, and methods of numerical analysis (planimetric or curve-fitting) were compared for the estimation of cell-cycle kinetic parameters (G1, S, G2 + M) by flow cytometry. In addition, coefficients of variation (CV), relative fluorescence, and G1/chicken erythrocyte (CRBC) ratios were measured and the effects of the proportion of cycling cells and cellular RNA content were examined. DNA-fluorochromes were ranked by relative fluorescence: 4,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole > ethidium bromide/mithramycin > Hoechst 33342 > mithramycin > ethidium bromide > acridine orange ≃ propidium iodide. The first four (DNA-specific stains) gave lower CVs than the remainder (DNA intercalators). Detergent treatment also increased relative fluorescence and slightly lowered CVs. Comparable results were obtained for the kinetic parameters independently of stain or staining procedure; intercalating dyes with cells of a high RNA content not treated with RNAse and acridine orange being exceptions. Of the two methods of numerical analysis, the planimetric technique was more consistent. Although highly consistant G1/CRBC ratios were obtained for any one stain, independently of staining procedures, variations between stains were noted. It is suggested that the detergent treatment in combination with DNA-specific stains provide optimal results.
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