A monoclonal antibody against histone 2B (anti-H2B) was used as a reagent to stain isolated chromosomes for analysis using flow cytometry. Chromosome suspensions were treated with a mouse monoclonal antibody specific for the histone 2B (clone HBC-7) and then with a fluorescein-labeled goat anti-mouse-IgM antibody. The chromosomes were also stained for DNA content with either Hoechst 33258 or propidium iodide. The amount of antibody and the amount of DNA-specific stain bound to each chromosome were measured simultaneously using flow cytometry. The order of the steps in the staining protocol is important. Propidium iodide prevents anti-H2B from binding to chromosomes, and therefore must be added only after antibody labeling is completed. In contrast, the addition of Hoechst 33258 before antibody labeling reduces antibody binding by only 20%-30%. Binding of anti-H2B was proportional to the DNA content of both human and Chinese hamster chromosomes. Human chromosomes bind an average of three to four times more anti-H2B than do Chinese hamster or mouse chromosomes of the same DNA content. This was determined by analyzing mixtures of human and Chinese hamster chromosomes and human and mouse chromosomes. The results demonstrate that it is possible to label the proteins of chromosomes in suspension with fluorescent antibodies and to use these reagents for the analysis of chromosome structure by flow cytometry.
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