Letter | Published:

Mechanism of Differential Staining of Nucleic Acids

Naturevolume 191pages407408 (1961) | Download Citation



WORK in this Department, to be published elsewhere, has shown that several histological methods for the demonstration of mucin depend for their selectivity on the use of cations of large size. Thus alcian blue, with a molecular weight of about 1,341 (ref. 1), is almost specific for acid mucins, being apparently unable to enter other, more dense, basophilic structures. The dialysed iron method2 similarly depends on the use of large particles (colloidal ferric hydroxide), while in Southgate's mucicarmine the small carmine molecule is probably adsorbed on to colloidal aluminium hydroxide.

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  1. 1

    Gurr, E., Encyclopædia of Microscopic Stains (Leonard Hill (Books), Ltd., London, 1960).

  2. 2

    Hale, C. W., Nature, 157, 802 (1946).

  3. 3

    Lison, L., Quart. J. Micro. Sci., 96, 227 (1955).

  4. 4

    Kurnick, N. B., Int. Rev. Cytol., 4, 221 (1955).

  5. 5

    Baker, J. R., Principles of Biological Microtechnique (Methuen and Co., Ltd., London, 1958).

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  1. Department of Anatomy, University of the Witwatersrand Medical School, Hospital St., Johannesburg



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