DAPI: a DNA-specific fluorescent probe

Biotech Histochem. 1995 Sep;70(5):220-33. doi: 10.3109/10520299509108199.


DAPI (4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole) is a DNA-specific probe which forms a fluorescent complex by attaching in the minor grove of A-T rich sequences of DNA. It also forms nonfluorescent intercalative complexes with double-stranded nucleic acids. The physicochemical properties of the dye and its complexes with nucleic acids and history of the development of this dye as a biological stain are described. The application of DAPI as a DNA-specific probe for flow cytometry, chromosome staining, DNA visualization and quantitation in histochemistry and biochemistry is reviewed. The mechanisms of DAPI-nucleic acid complex formation including minor groove binding, intercalation and condensation are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chemistry, Physical
  • DNA / analysis*
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Indoles / chemistry*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Indoles
  • DAPI
  • DNA