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Nucleic Acids Res. 1996 Nov 15;24(22):4535-42.

Chemical methods of DNA and RNA fluorescent labeling.

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Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology, Moscow, Russia.


Several procedures have been described for fluorescent labeling of DNA and RNA. They are based on the introduction of aldehyde groups by partial depurination of DNA or oxidation of the 3'-terminal ribonucleoside in RNA by sodium periodate. Fluorescent labels with an attached hydrazine group are efficiently coupled with the aldehyde groups and the hydrazone bonds are stabilized by reduction with sodium cyanoborohydride. Alternatively, DNA can be quantitatively split at the depurinated sites with ethylenediamine. The aldimine bond between the aldehyde group in depurinated DNA or oxidized RNA and ethylenediamine is stabilized by reduction with sodium cyanoborohydride and the primary amine group introduced at these sites is used for attachment of isothiocyanate or succinimide derivatives of fluorescent dyes. The fluorescent DNA labeling can be carried out either in solution or on a reverse phase column. These procedures provide simple, inexpensive methods of multiple DNA labeling and of introducing one fluorescent dye molecule per RNA, as well as quantitative DNA fragmentation and incorporation of one label per fragment. These methods of fluorophore attachment were shown to be efficient for use in the hybridization of labeled RNA, DNA and DNA fragments with oligonucleotide microchips.

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