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Photochem Photobiol. 2011 Jan-Feb;87(1):256-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-1097.2010.00852.x. Epub 2010 Dec 10.

Short exposure to the DNA intercalator DRAQ5 dislocates the transcription machinery and induces cell death.

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Interdisciplinary Research Institute, USR 3078 CNRS and Lille 1 University, Bioophotonics Laboratory, Parc de la Haute Borne, Villeneuve d'Ascq Cedex, France.


The fluorescent probe DRAQ5 which rapidly permeates cells and binds to DNA is potentially useful for functional studies of molecular dynamics and interactions in living nuclei. Within minutes after the incubation of human osteosarcoma U2OS cells with 5μm DRAQ5, the distributions of RNA polymerase II and some of its associated regulatory proteins HEXIM and cyclin T1 in the nucleus are severely impaired, and transcription is inhibited. Furthermore, 30min exposure to DRAQ5 induces death of U2OS cells 24h later. Incubation with Hoechst 33342 under similar conditions does not induce these effects. These results emphasize the importance of carefully examining the functional consequences of labeling DNA with intercalating fluorescent dyes before use.

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