Fluorescence Properties of Quaternary Benzo[c]phenanthridine alkaloids and Their Use as Supravital DNA Probes

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I. Slaninováa, J. Slaninab, and E. Táborskáb

a Department of Biology, b Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Masaryk University, Brno Czech Republic


Quaternary benzo[c]phenanthridine alkaloids (QBAs) are natural products isolated from plants of Fumariaceae, Papaveraceae, Ranunculaceae and Rutaceae families. They are intensively studied for their biological activities, but they have also attractive fluorescence properties. Chromophores responsible for fluorescence are fused aromatic ring systems with electron-donor groups containing oxygen (OH, OCH3, OCH2O). Recently we have described fluorescent characteristics of QBAs − macarpine (MA), sanguirubine (SR), chelirubine (CHR), sanguilutine (SL), chelilutine (CHL), sanguinarine (SA) and chelerythrine (CHE) - on interaction with living cells. All these alkaloids immediately enter the living cells and MA-, CHR- and SA-bound DNA; they showed a nucleus architecture similar to common DNA dyes. Moreover, MA binds to DNA stoichiometrically and can rapidly report the cellular DNA content in living cells at a resolution adequate for cell cycle analysis. QBAs could be excited by common argon lasers (488 nm) emitting light in the 575−755 nm range. Spectral characteristics of MA allow simultaneous surface immunophenotyping. These characteristics allow multiple applications of the above-mentioned QBAs with significant diagnostic utility. They can be used as supravital fluorescent DNA probes both in fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry including multiparameter analysis.


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