Improved fluorescent compounds for tracing cell lineage

Dev Biol. 1985 Jun;109(2):509-14. doi: 10.1016/0012-1606(85)90476-2.


In this note simple methods for the synthesis of several new fluorescent cell lineage tracers are described. These are fluorescent dextrans with average molecular weights of approximately 11 X 10(3), and with one or more fluorophore molecules covalently coupled to each dextran chain. These fluorescent dextrans are brighter than commercially obtainable products, and can be microinjected using either air-pressure injection or iontophoresis. They are long-lasting and have a uniform distribution in the cytoplasm of embryonic cells, clearly revealing very fine cell extensions such as cilia, axons, and filipodia. A method is also described for covalently attaching free amino groups to fluorescent dextran to make the tracers cofixable with cellular constituents by aldehyde treatment. Fluorescent dextran-amine tracers allow embryonic cell lineages to be studied in fixed, permeabilized, or sectioned embryos.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amines / chemical synthesis
  • Animals
  • Dextrans / chemical synthesis*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / cytology*
  • Fluoresceins / chemical synthesis
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemical synthesis*
  • Leeches / embryology
  • Rhodamines / chemical synthesis
  • Xenopus laevis / embryology


  • Amines
  • Dextrans
  • Fluoresceins
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Rhodamines