An overview of the visualisation and quantitation of low and high MW DNA adducts using the trapped in agarose DNA immunostaining (TARDIS) assay

Mutagenesis. 2011 Mar;26(2):253-60. doi: 10.1093/mutage/geq094. Epub 2010 Nov 10.


The ability to detect and quantify specific DNA adducts benefits genome stability research, drug development and the evaluation of environmental mutagens. The trapped in agarose DNA immunostaining (TARDIS) assay was developed as a means of detecting and quantifying melphalan and cisplatin DNA adducts at the single-cell level and has since been adapted to quantify topoisomerase-DNA complexes. The method relies on salt-detergent extraction of agarose-embedded cells. Genomic DNA and any covalently attached molecules remain in place in the agarose, while other cellular constituents are removed. Drug-DNA or topoisomerase-DNA complexes are then detected and quantified by sensitive immunofluorescence using adduct-specific antibodies. Here, we give a perspective of the TARDIS assay including a comparison with other methods for quantifying topoisomerase-DNA covalent complexes and provide technical details required to set up and perform the assay.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA / metabolism*
  • DNA Adducts / analysis*
  • DNA Adducts / metabolism
  • DNA Topoisomerases / metabolism
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sepharose / chemistry*


  • DNA Adducts
  • DNA
  • Sepharose
  • DNA Topoisomerases