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J Histochem Cytochem. 1992 Dec;40(12):1849-56.

Silver enhancement of gold antibody probes in pre-embedding electron microscopic immunocytochemistry.

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Department of Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy, Ohio State University, Columbus 43210-1239.


In pre-embedding EM immunocytochemistry with gold probes, the gold must be small enough to penetrate through cell membranes treated with mild detergents. Antibodies labeled with small gold probes (1-1.4 nm) are too small to be resolved in thin sections but can be seen if they are silver-enhanced after the gold has bound to the antigens in the cells. We investigated several aspects of gum arabic-silver lactate-hydroquinone enhancement solution (Danscher solution) by examining gold-conjugated antibodies embedded in agar, sectioned on a vibrotome, and enhanced with different solutions. The rate of silver enhancement was optimized in 50% gum arabic and 200 mM HEPES buffer, pH 5.8. We also examined chemicals used as developers and found that N-propyl gallate (NPG) gave a more uniform development than the routinely used hydroquinone (HQ). The diameter of the silver-enhanced particles after incubation in osmium tetratoxide (OSO4) decreased somewhat with longer incubation time and higher percentages, but the density (number per unit area) of silver-enhanced particles was little changed. The loss of silver-enhanced particle diameter was reduced by lowering the concentration of OSO4 to 0.1%. Comparison of commercial small gold probes showed that NPG enhancement of Nanogold gave more uniform particle size and a better correlation between enhancement time and particle density. When this procedure was applied to cell cultures with monoclonal antibodies, the silver-enhanced particles were similar to those in the agar sections. When free-floating tissue sections were used, longer silver enhancement times were needed to obtain similarly sized particles. This new NPG-silver-enhancement procedure offers a reliable and easy method to localize proteins in cultured cells and tissue sections by pre-embedding electron microscopic immunocytochemistry.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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