Flow cytometric analysis of RNA content in different cell populations using pyronin Y and methyl green

Alan Pollack, D. L. Prudhomme, D. B. Greenstein, G. L. Irvin, A. J. Claflin, Norman L Block

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

32 Scopus citations


Pyronin Y (PY) was used, in flow cytometric (FCM) systems, to estimate the RNA content per cell in formalin fixed EL4 leukosis tumor cells, enzyme dispersed R3327-G rat prostatic adenocarcinoma cells, mouse spleen cells stimulated with concanavalin A, and human peripheral blood lymphocytes stimulated with phytohemagglutinin. Preincubation of the cells with methyl green (MG) blocked PY binding to DNA such that the intracellular fluorescence from MG-Py was due primarily to its binding to RNA. Treatment of the cells with ribonuclease resulted in a 3- to 5-fold reduction in the fluorescence intensity of intracellular MG-PY. Mitogen stimulation of either mouse or human lymphocytes resulted in an increase in DNA (propidium iodide fluorescence) and RNA (MG-PY fluorescence) content per cell over resting levels. Further, the changes in stimulated human lymphocyte DNA and RNA contents following 24, 48, and 72 hr of cell culture were monitored. The results showed that RNA levels were significantly increased prior to that of DNA. Also, the effects of different cell cycle phase specific blocking agents on lymphocyte cell cycle traverse were investigated. We found that: actinomycin D inhibited the increases in cellular RNA and DNA; hydroxyurea inhibited the increases in cellular DNA whereas increases in cellular RNA were only slightly reduced; tritiated thymidine caused an accumulation of cells having high DNA and RNA contents; and Colcemid promoted an accumulation of cells having high DNA contents while causing a reduction of cells having high RNA contents. These results were nearly identical to reports by other investigators using the metachromatic dye acridine orange to quantitate RNA per cell. Thus, the MG-PY technique described is indicated to provide a stable and accurate measure of RNA content per cell.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCytometry
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Dec 1 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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