Visualization of Programmed Cell Death in Whole Embryos Using Acridine Orange

Vital staining with the dye, acridine orange, has been previously used to analyze patterns of apoptosis in both vertebrate and invertebrate embryos (3,4). During apoptosis, cells fragment into a number of apoptotic bodies that are chromatin-rich and are intensely stained by acridine orange. In contrast, healthy cells exclude this dye. Thus, when used vitally, i.e., on living specimens, it can only pick out dead cells. The method described below will work, with slight modifications, on any type of embryo.

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