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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Staining with pyronin Y detects changes in conformation of RNA during mitosis and hyperthermia of CHO cells.

Cellular RNA in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells synchronized in mitosis (M) or G2 phase, as well as in interphase cells subjected to hyperthermia (42 degrees C, 10 min), was stained with acridine orange (AO), ethidium bromide (EB), or pyronin Y (PY) and the resultant fluorescence was measured by flow cytometry. Total RNA content detected after staining with AO increased in M as compared to G2-phase cells, consistent with continued RNA synthesis during G2 phase. The content of double-stranded RNA, stained with EB (after DNase treatment), was also somewhat higher in M cells. In contrast, the stainability of RNA with PY decreased by 27% in M- compared to G2-phase cells. Furthermore, a decrease in stainability of RNA with PY was observed in G2 cells compared to cells in G1 phase. In separate experiments, RNA stainability with AO or EB was generally unaffected when interphase CHO cells were exposed to 42 degrees C for 10 min, though this same treatment resulted in a 26% decrease in RNA stainability with PY. The decreased PY stainability of cellular RNA in M or heat-treated cells was observed at a relatively narrow range of dye concentration (1.0-2.0 micrograms/ml). The observed hypochromicity of RNA coincides with dissociation of polyribosomes into single ribosomes known to occur during mitosis and following exposure to hyperthermia. It is presumed that the phenomenon involves selective denaturation and condensation of ribosomal (r) RNA by PY in single ribosomes which does not occur in polyribosomes. While the molecular mechanisms responsible for stabilization of rRNA in polyribosomes preventing its denaturation and condensation by PY are unknown, PY appears to be a sensitive probe that can be used to detect and study these changes in rRNA confirmation in situ.[1]


  1. Staining with pyronin Y detects changes in conformation of RNA during mitosis and hyperthermia of CHO cells. Traganos, F., Crissman, H.A., Darzynkiewicz, Z. Exp. Cell Res. (1988) [Pubmed]
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