Visualization of Programmed Cell Death in Whole Embryos Using TUNEL

The terminal transferase-mediated dUTP-biotin Nick End Labeling (TUNEL) method to detect apoptotic cells is based on the fact that terminal transferase will catalyze a template-independent addition of dNTPs to the 3'-OH ends of DNA strands and that one of the early events during apoptosis is the cleavage of a cell's DNA (5,6). Thus, cells undergoing programmed cell death are detected by incubating the embryo, which has been fixed, with terminal transferase and a labeled nucleotide, dUTP-biotin conjugated, with the latter being added to the nicked ends of the DNA fragments and subsequently detected with a streptavidin conjugate. Again, this method will work with slight modification for any type of embryo (see Note 2).

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