Multi-parametric flow cytometric cell cycle analysis using TO-PRO-3 iodide (TP3): Detailed protocols

Michele Tavecchio, Matteo Simone, Sergio Bernasconi, Gianluca Tognon, Giuliano Mazzini, Eugenio Erba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


TO-PRO-3 iodide (TP3), a monomeric cyanine nucleic acid stain with a peak absorbance at 642 nm and emission at 661 nm, is best excited by a helium-neon (HeNe) laser (633 nm). It was tested in monocytes and different cell lines under conditions of different fixatives, dye concentrations, labeling kinetics and RNAse concentrations for mono-, bi- and tri-parametric flow cytometric cell cycle analysis to establish the best protocol for DNA analysis in terms of G1 peak CV, G2/G1 ratio and minimal amount of debris. A linear increase in G1 peak position was found from 0.1 to 2 μM TP3 concentrations. Fixatives 70% ethanol or 1% methanol-free formaldehyde, followed by 70% ethanol, resulted in the best DNA histograms. Although different protocols were found to be cell-type specific, in general, excellent results were obtained with 30 min incubation with 0.5 μM TP3 plus RNAse in almost all cell lines tested. These data show that TP3 is an alternative method to propidium iodide (PI), the most commonly used DNA-specific probe in flow cytometry. The most important advantage of using TP3 in combination with other fluorochromes, such as fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) or phycoerythrin (PE) in bi- or tri-parametric flow cytometric analysis, is that there is no need for fluorescence compensation for the TP3 signals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-244
Number of pages13
JournalActa Histochemica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 22 2008


  • DNA analysis
  • Flow cytometry
  • Fluorescence
  • Protocols
  • TO-PRO-3 iodide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Multi-parametric flow cytometric cell cycle analysis using TO-PRO-3 iodide (TP3): Detailed protocols'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this