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Cytometry. 1996 Aug 1;24(4):321-9.

Enzyme-generated intracellular fluorescence for single-cell reporter gene analysis utilizing Escherichia coli beta-glucuronidase.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, Stanford University Medical School, California, USA.


We report the development of a new fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS)-based reporter gene system utilizing the enzymatic activity of the E. coli beta-glucuronidase (gus) gene. When loaded with the Gus substrate fluorescein-di-beta-D-glucuronide (FDGlcu), individual mammalian cells expressing and translating gus mRNA liberate sufficient levels of intracellular fluorescein for quantitative analysis by flow cytometry. This assay can be used to FACS sort viable cells based on Gus enzymatic activity, and the efficacy of the assay can be measured independently by using a fluorometric lysate assay. Furthermore, both the beta-glucuronidase and the previously described E. coli beta-galactosidase enzymes have high specificities for their cognate substrates, allowing each reporter gene to be measured by FACS independently.

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