, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 297–306

The effect of graded 60°C 1N nitric acid extraction and of deoxyribonuclease digestion on nuclear staining by metachrome mordant dye metal salt mixtures


  • R. D. Lillie
    • Department of PathologyLSU Medical Center
  • P. T. Donaldson
    • Department of PathologyLSU Medical Center
  • P. Pizzolato
    • Department of PathologyLSU Medical Center

DOI: 10.1007/BF02464419

Cite this article as:
Lillie, R.D., Donaldson, P.T. & Pizzolato, P. Histochemistry (1976) 46: 297. doi:10.1007/BF02464419


We can divide metachrome mordant staining of nuclei after graded 60°C 1N nitric acid extraction into three groups. The feulgen nucleal reaction and dilute cationic dye staining of nuclei are abolished in about 30 minutes. With one group of metachrome dyes nuclear staining is lost with acid exposures of one hour or less. In a second group nuclear staining is weakened by 30–60 minute extractions, but persists in recognizable grade for 4–6 hours. In the third group nuclear staining remains almost unimpaired for 4–6 hours.

In the first group the nuclear staining seems clearly assignable to the nucleic acids and to DNA in particular. In the second group loss of part of the reactivity on short exposure indicates some participation of DNA in the control staining result, as well as participation of basic nucleoprotein. In the third group staining seems assignable largely to basic nucleoprotein.

The five gallocyanin group dyes, all in group1, all possess a dialkylamino group, probably functioning as an ammonium chloride. Hematoxylin, the fluorone blacks and gallein all present ano-hydroxysemiquinone group which probably acts as a weak acid, in addition to the carboxyl group of gallein which gives the strongest staining of nuclei at the longest acid exposure.

Dexyribonuclease digestion (2 hours, 37°C) separated sharply a class in which nuclear staining failed completely, a class in which nuclear staining was fully equal to that in the control preparations and an intermediate group in which slight, moderate, or severa impairment was present. Generally there was good agreement between the two methods of nucleic acid removal, despite the fixation difference. In each case, however, the extraction procedure was one worked out for the fixation on which it was used.

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© Springer-Verlag 1976