The JAM Test: An Assay of Cell Death

  • Polly Matzinger


Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) appear to have at least two different ways of killing their targets: they drill holes in the target cell membrane, and they can also trigger the targets to commit suicide. For 30 years, 51Cr-release has been a reasonably efficient and useful method to measure membrane disintegration, but until very recently, the assessment of target cell suicide has been a slow, laborious, and inefficient process. Here I describe the JAM Test (Matzinger, 1991) a method that measures the DNA fragmentation that accompanies cell suicide. As a general measure of apoptosis, it is fast, quantitative, and easy to do. As a method for measuring the activity of CTL, it surpasses 51Cr release in several different ways. It is faster, more sensitive, more convenient, safer, more flexible, and cheaper. Its main disadvantage is that the targets must be in growth phase.


Spleen Cell Target Cell Membrane Fiberglass Filter Limit Dilution Assay Spontaneous Death 
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  1. Matzinger P (1991): The JAM Test: A simple assay for DNA fragmentation and cell death. J Immunol Methods 145: 185–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Boston 1993

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  • Polly Matzinger

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